Chemist says Kim had 1.4 times lethal dosage of VX on face

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

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.

VX was found on Kim Jong Nam’s face, in his eye and in his blood plasma, Raja Subra­ma­niam, who heads the Cen­tre of Chem­i­cal Weapons Anal­y­sis lab­o­ra­tory, said at the mur­der trial of two women ac­cused of smear­ing the chem­i­cal weapon on Kim in the brazen as­sas­si­na­tion in Fe­bru­ary.

VX and re­lated prod­ucts were also de­tected on the clothes the women were wear­ing on the day of the at­tack. On Monday the trial moved tem­po­rar­ily to a high-se­cu­rity lab­o­ra­tory so the judge, at­tor­neys and the de­fen­dants could ex­am­ine the cloth­ing be­fore it was of­fi­cially ac­cepted as ev­i­dence.

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

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

Asked if this amount 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.”

He ac­knowl­edged that more of the poi­son might be needed to kill a heav­ier per­son but had no data on it.

He said the VX con­cen­trate in Kim’s eye was es­ti­mated at only 0.03mg per kilo­gram of his body weight, but that cor­re­lated to VX pen­e­trat­ing faster through the eye than through the skin. VX was also found on the col­lar and sleeves of Kim’s blazer, prob­a­bly be­cause he wiped his face on his blazer after the at­tack, Raja said.

The two de­fen­dants, Doan Thi Huong from Viet­nam and Siti Aisyah from In­done­sia, pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last week to mur­der charges that carry a manda­tory death sen­tence if they are con­victed.

Raja’s find­ing of VX on the women’s cloth­ing and on Huong’s fin­ger­nails 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.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Raja said it wasn’t pos­si­ble that the VX used to kill Kim was a “bi­nary” con­coc­tion of two non-fa­tal el­e­ments be­cause high tem­per­a­ture would have been re­quired to cre­ate VX.

He agreed with the defence’s as­ser­tion that ac­tual VX could have been smug­gled into Malaysia or a non-fa­tal com­pound could have been smug­gled into the coun­try and mixed with sul­fur to cre­ate VX in a clan­des­tine lab­o­ra­tory.

One item where Raja de­tected VX was not of­fi­cially ad­mit­ted as ev­i­dence in the case: the blazer Kim was wear­ing when he was at­tacked. Raja tes­ti­fied it was not avail­able be­cause po­lice told him to re­turn Kim’s per­sonal be­long­ings, in­clud­ing his blazer and bag, to North Korea.

Po­lice of­fi­cer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, the chief in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer in the mur­der, told the court that an air­port se­cu­rity video taken be­fore the at­tack on Kim showed Huong softly wip­ing the face of an­other per­son at the same air­port ter­mi­nal, in what he de­scribed as a prac­tice ses­sion for the at­tack on Kim. Huong then clasped her hands to­gether and bowed her head as if she was apol­o­gis­ing be­fore re­treat­ing slowly, he said.

How­ever, a se­cu­rity video taken of the ac­tual mur­der showed her be­ing rough, “as if she was at­tack­ing” Kim, he said.

“To me, her ac­tion was quite ag­gres­sive,” Wan Azirul said, adding that Huong then re­treated in haste.

Pros­e­cu­tor Wan Sha­harud­din Wan Ladin told re­porters that the ear­lier video was taken on Fe­bru­ary 11, two days be­fore the mur­der. He said pros­e­cu­tors will show videos to the court on Wed­nes­day of the two women car­ry­ing out the at­tack. – As­so­ci­ated Press TWO Aus­tralian navy ves­sels, in­clud­ing a he­li­copter dock and a guided mis­sile frigate, ar­rived Tues­day in the Philip­pines for a five-day good­will visit as Aus­tralia seeks an in­creased se­cu­rity pres­ence and greater in­flu­ence in the re­gion.

Her Majesty’s Aus­tralian Ship (HMAS) Ade­laide, a land­ing he­li­copter dock, and HMAS Dar­win, a guided mis­sile frigate, docked at Manila’s har­bour. Philip­pine navy of­fi­cials and Aus­tralia’s am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines, Amanda Gor­ley, wel­comed the crew of the ships, which are part of the Aus­tralian defence force joint task group In­doPa­cific En­deav­our 2017.

“The prin­ci­pal aim of the de­ploy­ment as we tour around the re­gion is to demon­strate Aus­tralian com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing re­gional se­cu­rity and re­gional sta­bil­ity,” said the con­tin­gent head, Capt. Jonathan Ear­ley. He said a num­ber of ex­er­cises planned with the Philip­pine armed forces in Manila and in western Su­bic Bay will fo­cus on hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and disas­ter re­lief.

Gor­ley said the ship visit “is a sym­bol of the strong defence ties be­tween Aus­tralia and the Philip­pines, which just get deeper and deeper.” Through joint ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the visit, Aus­tralia and the Philip­pines can work to­gether to pur­sue their shared ob­jec­tive of en­sur­ing mar­itime se­cu­rity and re­gional sta­bil­ity, she added.

Free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in re­gional wa­ters will be in­cluded in mar­itime se­cu­rity and re­gional sta­bil­ity, Gor­ley said when asked if Aus­tralia’s Indo-Pa­cific En­deav­our would in­clude free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions in dis­puted wa­ters of the South China Sea.

But Ear­ley said free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in the South China Sea – an is­sue that Aus­tralia does not takes sides in – is not a fo­cus of their de­ploy­ment.

“Cer­tainly what I can say is that we do have a strong in­ter­est in re­gional se­cu­rity and re­spect for in­ter­na­tional law, and that cer­tainly in­cludes the free­dom of trade, and the abil­ity to ex­er­cise free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and over­flight where re­quired,” he said.

Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said Friday that a pol­icy paper to be re­leased later this year would spell out guide­lines on how Aus­tralia can max­imise and ex­er­cise power and in­flu­ence to de­fend a rules-based in­ter­na­tional or­der and to dis­suade oth­ers seek­ing to un­der­mine it. – As­so­ci­ated Press

Photo: AP

A crew mem­ber of the HMAS Ade­laide, an am­phibi­ous as­sault ship and land­ing he­li­copter dock, throws a line as the Aus­tralian naval ship docks in Manila, Philip­pines, on Tues­day.

Photo: AP

Viet­namese Doan Thi Huong is es­corted by po­lice from the court hear­ing in Shah Alam, Malaysia, on Tues­day.

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