Catching Up with the Kim Jong-nam Murder Trial

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The trial was deferred a day after the judge, prosecutors, defence lawyers and the two accused visited a high-security laboratory to view VX-tainted evidence yesterday. 

Vincent Thian/AP and Reuters

Government chemist Dr Raja Subramaniam spent more than an hour in the morning showing the evidence kept in a small room inside the laboratory.

The trial was originally due to resume in the court building after lunch but the judge deferred it after Raja said he was exhausted.

Oct 5: Day 4

Dr Raja Subramaniam told the High Court that he found traces of VX nerve agent on the clothes of the accused Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong

“I found VX nerve agent precursors on a ‘LOL’ shirt sleeve and Siti’s sleeve,” Raja said.

Zulfadhli Zaki/Sunpix

The ‘LOL’ shirt was said to have been worn by Doan when she allegedly approached Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and sprayed VX nerve agent on him.

Raja found VX nerve agent traces on Doan’s nails as well.

He also found traces of VX nerve agent on Jong-nam’s face, eyes, and on his bag and the blazer he wore.

He also said that airports in Malaysia did not have any device that could detect chemical weapons like VX nerve agent.

“VX nerve agent liquid may be taken into the country from North Korea in a water bottle, without being detected,” Raja said.

Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharudin Wan Ladin asked Raja, based on his expert opinion, which was the best method to “assassinate” a person.

The chemist said it would be applying VX nerve agent on his face as the liquid could be absorbed into the eyes quickly, compared to spraying and splashing methods.

High Court judge Justice Azmi Ariffin temporarily will temporarily adjourn the hearing of the murder trial to the chemistry department on Monday to look at the ‘LOL’ shirt that has traces of VX nerve agent.

Defence lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, representing Siti, had asked to view the ‘LOL’ shirt but Raja had warned that viewing the shirt in an open space was dangerous as the VX nerve agent’s presence might be still active.

Oct 4: Day 3

Kim Jong-nam’s post-mortem was delayed due to an objection from a certain embassy, a forensic pathologist told the High Court.

Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood said that although he saw the deceased’s body at the Hospital Putrajaya morgue on Feb 14, he only did the autopsy the next day at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

“There was an objection by an embassy representative made to the PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) and the Foreign Ministry. It was also referred to the AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers),” Mohd Shah said.

Syarafiq Abd Samad/NST

The body of Jong-nam was claimed by a representative of the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur on March 30.

Mohd Shah said the body was not allowed to be bought out of the mortuary until the cause of death was established.

To a question by defence counsel Datuk Naran on whether the DNA from Jong-nam’s body was compared with his son’s, the doctor said DNA matching could not be done because there were no DNA samples from the family.

Questioned several times whether Jong-nam died from a heart attack, Mohd Shah maintained that the main cause of death was the VX nerve agent.

Lawyer Gooi asked the doctor to list the type of drugs found in Jong-nam’s blood samples.

“There were six types of drugs in the deceased’s blood samples, namely drugs to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, gout and also erectile dysfunction,” he said.

Oct 3: Day 2

On treating Jong-nam at the KLIA2 clinic, Dr Nik Mohd Adzrul Ariff said he administered one ampule of atropine and adrenaline each to the patient in an effort to ensure that his heart was pumping more blood.

Then the patient was fixed with a high-flow mask to increase his oxygen level.

According to Nik Mohd, despite being stable, Jong-nam needed to be transferred to a hospital with an ICU setting.


He said he learnt of Jong-nam’s death when a paramedic informed him after the ambulance had arrived at the Putrajaya Hospital.

The toxicology report from analysis on the remains of Jong-nam revealed that he had low levels of the cholineterase enzyme, the High Court was told.

Government pathologist Dr Norashikin Othman, who is attached to Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), said such a condition could have been caused by either pesticide or the work of nerve agent.

However, she said that the nerve agent might not be the only reason for a low amount of cholinesterase enzyme in a person’s blood as it could be due to consumption of hormone pills.

A lack of the enzyme can lead to heart and muscle dysfunction.

While the enzyme level for Jong-nam was very low, that for both the accused was normal, the pathologist said.

During cross-examination, Norashikin agreed with lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik’s suggestion that the pathologist report could mean that the accused were not exposed to the VX nerve agent.

HKL Forensic Division chief Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood said the post-mortem results showed no other factor as having caused the death, apart from acute VX nerve agent poisoning.

He said, in general, the internal examination on the victim found the internal organs and lungs swollen.

“The victim’s lungs suffered oedematus (excess fluid in the tissues or organs). In this case, after setting aside other factors such as illness or injuries and based on a toxicology report from the chemistry department, there were positive signs of VX nerve agent,” Mohd Shah said.

The forensic chief said the external examination on the victim’s body also found minor injuries to the lower and upper lips with signs of bruising, abrasion and scratches.

Oct 2: Day 1

The first witness of the trial, L/Kpl Mohd Zulkarnain Sainudin, whose job is to patrol the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2), said a “plump man with a chubby face” came to him together with a Juliana, who works at the airport’s information counter.

He said Juliana told him that the man’s face was wiped by two unknown women.

“He asked for help and wanted to be taken to the police station. His hands were shaking a little,” Juliana Idris said.

According to Juliana, the man said he was attacked by a woman from behind while another woman did something close to his eyes.

“He made a rubbing gesture (around) his eyes. I spent 10 to 20 minutes with him,” she added.

“I saw there was some liquid on his face and his eyes were a little red,” Zulkarnain told the High Court, adding that the man wanted to go to a clinic first before lodging a report.

He said as they were walking out of the lift on level two where the clinic is located, the man said: “Sir, walk slow, my eyes blur. I cannot see (sic).”

Zulkarnain said he opened the door for him to enter the clinic and then he waited outside. However, after a few moments, he saw the clinic staff performing emergency treatment on the man.

Dr Nik Mohd said that Kim Jong-nam was going into a seizure when he was brought for treatment at the clinic.

“When I first saw him, he was clutching his head and closing his eyes.

“His face was red and he was sweating profusely,” Nik Mohd testified, adding that the patient could not respond to his questions.

He also said Jong-nam’s blood pressure was “very high”.

A minute after the seizure stopped, the doctor said Jong-nam became unconscious and his blood pressure dropped.

Nurse Rabiatul Adawiyah said when she saw Jong-nam, he was having convulsions.

“He was sweating at that time and I helped him wipe his sweat. His eyes were rolling and he was having a running nose.”

Earlier report: Oct 2, Kim Jong-nam Murder Suspects Plead Not Guilty