By EILEEN NG
PETALING JAYA, Malaysia (AP) — The Malaysian court holding the trial of two women accused of killing the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader moved temporarily Monday to a high-security laboratory to view the nerve agent-tainted clothes the suspects wore the day of the attack.
Judges often visit crime scenes in Malaysia. The move was made in this case after government chemist Raja Subramaniam testified last week that the VX nerve agent he found on the clothing may still be active.
His testimony was the first evidence linking VX to Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, who are accused of smearing the nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal on Feb. 13.
In a special program late Sunday, Japan’s Fuji TV broadcast what it described as exclusive airport security videos showing an unconscious Kim being taken on a stretcher to an elevator. It said he was being taken to an ambulance to be transported to a hospital. Kim died on the way to the hospital.
Fuji TV also broadcast another security video that it said shows Aisyah meeting with a man believed to be a North Korean agent at an airport cafe shortly before the attack took place.
Selvi Sandrasegaram, one of the lawyers for Aisyah, said Raja spent more than an hour showing VX-tainted evidence in a small room inside the laboratory at the chemist department.
Selvi said she was in the room along with Huong and two police officers, while the others watched through a glass screen outside the room. She said Huong wanted to go inside to have a closer look at the evidence, which included her fingernail clippings and white jumper emblazoned with “LOL,” the acronym for “laughing out loud.”
Raja also testified last week that VX was detected on Kim Jong Nam’s face, eyes, clothing, and in his blood and urine samples. That evidence was introduced in court in sealed bags, but the visit to the laboratory was arranged so the evidence from the women could be taken out of the bags for viewing.
The trial was originally due to resume after lunch at the court building but the judge postponed it after Raja complained of being exhausted, Selvi said.
Raja is to be cross-examined by defense lawyers when the trial resumes Tuesday.
Prosecutors have also said they will present airport security videos this week that show the two women carrying out the attack and indicate they knew they were handling poison.
The two women pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last week to charges of murder that carry a mandatory death sentence if they are convicted. Defense lawyers have said the women were duped by suspected North Korean agents into believing they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden camera TV show.
VX is banned by an international treaty as a weapon of mass destruction but is believed to be part of North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s dynastic rulers but lived in virtual exile as an apparent family outcast.
He was believed to have been killed because he was perceived as a threat to the nation’s leader, his younger sibling Kim Jong Un.
Over the weekend, their younger sister was promoted to a new post within North Korea’s ruling party. Kim Yo Jong was made an alternate member of the decision-making political bureau of the party’s central committee, according to an announcement in state media. She is believed to be one of Kim Jong Un’s closest confidants and is his full sister. Kim Jong Nam had a different mother.