Kim Jong-nam

Pictures show Kim Jong-nam’s motionless body after a lethal dose of VX was smeared on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, in their 20s, are accused of smearing VX on Kim Jong-nam’s face in February in a hit that stunned the world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 1:10pm

The estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader had about 1.4 times the lethal dosage of VX nerve agent on his face after he was attacked at a Malaysian airport, a government chemist testified Tuesday.

Pure VX was on Kim Jong-nam’s body, in his eye and in his blood plasma, government chemist Raja Subramaniam said at the murder trial of two women accused of smearing the chemical weapon on Kim in the brazen assassination in February.

The testimony came after new pictures and video emerged showing what may be Kim’s final recorded moments of life after he fell perilously ill at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13.

The scene in the video appears almost casual, in contrast to the dramatic story of Kim’s death that topped news bulletins around the world.

After the gurney carrying Kim’s motionless body is brought into an apparently authorised personnel-only area of the airport for transfer to an ambulance, one of the five people with him summons the lift.

It takes more than a minute to arrive and during that time the attendants, dressed in green uniforms, appear to talk while one squeezes a resuscitation device strapped to Kim’s face.

After the lift doors slide open, the group still doesn’t leave for nearly another minute. One of the attendants, who doesn’t join the others in the lift, tries to leave the secure area through a door but discovers it is locked.

She is given a mobile phone by one of the attendants in the lift, apparently to call for help, but walks back to the lift again for a brief discussion.

The video was first broadcast late Sunday by Japan’s Fuji TV. The network also broadcast another security video that it said shows one of the accused women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, meeting with a man believed to be a North Korean agent at an airport cafe soon before the attack took place.

Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s dynastic rulers but lived in virtual exile as an apparent family outcast. North Korea experts say he may have been killed because he was perceived as a threat to the nation’s current leader, his younger sibling, Kim Jong-un.

VX was also detected on the clothes both women wore the day of the attack. The trial on Monday had temporarily moved to a high-security laboratory for the judge, lawyers and the defendants to examine the clothing before it was presented as evidence.

Resuming his testimony Tuesday, Raja described the lethal potential of VX. He said animal studies showed the lethal dosage is 0.142 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, and that 50 per cent of the tested population will die when exposed to this dosage on their skin.

Raja estimated the concentrate on Kim’s facial skin was 0.2 milligram per kilogram of body weight.

VX was also on the collar and sleeves of his blazer, probably because Kim wiped his face on his blazer after the attack, Raja said.

His finding of VX on the women’s clothing was the first evidence linking VX to the two suspects. Their 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.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam 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.

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.

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.