The half-brother of North Korea's leader suffered extensive organ damage after being attacked with a nerve agent, a pathologist said today, as more chilling details emerged at the trial of his alleged killers.
The half-brother of North Korea’s leader suffered extensive organ damage after being attacked with a nerve agent, a pathologist said today, as more chilling details emerged at the trial of his alleged killers. Vital organs, including his lungs and brain, swelled due to a build-up of fluid, testified Mohamad Shah Mahmood, who carried out the post-mortem on Kim Jong-Nam. Two women are on trial accused of attacking Kim Jong-Un’s estranged relative with the deadly nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, in an assassination that shocked the world. He died an agonising death about 20 minutes after the VX, a chemical so deadly it is listed as a weapon of mass destruction, was rubbed on his face.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who were arrested a few days after the killing, have pleaded not guilty to the murder. The defendants, who face death by hanging if convicted, say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show. Their lawyers blame North Korean agents. South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit but Pyongyang denies the allegations. 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 second day of proceedings today, Mohamad Shah described to the Sham Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, how he carried out the post-mortem. “The overall findings showed congestion of the organs and swelling of the lungs,” he said, using the medical term which refers to an excessive accumulation of body fluid. Parts of the brain, the liver and spleen were among organs affected, he added. He said the weight of Kim’s right lung had increased to 690 grams (24 ounces), above the average for an adult lung. From the examination, he concluded that Kim had “died due to VX poisoning”.
A post-mortem report submitted as evidence to the trial showed that VX was found not just on Kim’s face and eyes but also in his blood and urine, and on his clothes and luggage. Earlier, a chemical pathologist who examined a sample of Kim’s blood testified it showed very low levels of an enzyme vital for his nervous system to function, a condition which could have been caused by exposure to poison.
The pathologist, Nur Ashikin Othman, said Kim had a level of 344 units per litre, far below the usual level for men. But tests on the two suspects showed their levels were normal. The murder sparked a furious diplomatic row between North Korea and Malaysia, which had been one of Pyongyang’s few allies amid global outrage over its atomic weapons programme.