Other suspects could have poisoned the half-brother of North Korea’s leader besides the two women on trial for his audacious assassination in Malaysia, an expert witness said Wednesday. Pathologist Mohamad Shah Mahmood said it was possible four other suspects who are mentioned in the charge sheet but are still at large could have administered a nerve agent before Kim Jong-Nam was attacked by the women.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are on trial accused of smearing poison VX on Kim’s face at Kuala Lumpur international airport on February 13, in a Cold War-style hit that stunned the world. The women, who were arrested a few days after the killing and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as he waited to board a flight to Macau.
The defendants, both in their 20s, say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show and their lawyers blame North Korean agents. The murder sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which is suspected of ordering the hit. Pyongyang denies the allegation. The charge sheet blames Kim’s death on the women along with four other people still at large, who are not named. Four North Korean suspects fled Malaysia on the day of the murder.
On the third day of proceedings today, Naran Singh, a lawyer for Huong, asked Mohamad Shah during cross-examination the possible ways for VX to enter a person’s body.
“The possible route of entry is via skin contact, ingestion, inhalation, injection and via the eye,” he told Shah Alam High Court, outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The lawyer asked Mohamad Shah if it was possible that the four others mentioned in the charge could have poisoned Kim before the victim arrived at the airport.
“There is a possibility,” the pathologist, who carried out the post-mortem on Kim, responded.
CCTV footage of the attack shows the women coming up behind Kim and swiping his face with a substance before running away, and a post-mortem report showed his death was caused by VX. But experts had been confounded by how the women allegedly carried out the hit using a chemical so deadly it is a listed as a weapon of mass destruction without causing any harm to themselves.
Earlier, defence lawyers put on face masks and gloves as they examined bags of Kim’s blood samples and swabs taken from his face. A bag containing some of Kim’s personal effects, including underwear, was opened, sending an unpleasant smell wafting across the room. A post-mortem report submitted to the trial yesterday revealed new personal details about Kim, such as that he had several tattoos, including one of a dragon and another of a dragon’s head breathing fire.