Shah Alam, Malaysia – 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 terminal, a government chemist says.
Pure VX was on Kim Jon-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 a brazen assassination in February.
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 government laboratory for the judge, attorneys and the defendants to examine the clothing before it was presented as evidence.
Resuming his testimony on 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.
Asked if the VX concentrate found on Kim’s face was enough to kill him, Raja said: “I can’t give a direct answer on this. Based on concentrate estimate, it is about 1.4 times the lethal dosage.”
Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is taken into a lift at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, on February 13. Photo: AP
He said the VX concentrate estimated on Kim’s eye was only 0.03 milligrams per kilogram of his body weight, but that correlated to VX penetrating faster through the eye than through the skin.
Pure VX was found on Kim’s face, in his eye and his blood plasma. It 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 earlier testimony about finding VX on the women’s clothing was the first evidence linking VX to the two suspects.
Their attorneys 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 have pleaded not guilty 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.
South Korea maintains the North had attempted to assassinate Kim in the past and had succeeded this time.
North Korea denies any assassination plot. Even though it requested Kim’s body be returned to North Korea, it never acknowledged the murdered man was the leader’s sibling.