As­sas­si­na­tion af­ter­math

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - EILEEN NG

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s health min­is­ter said Sun­day that the dose of nerve agent given to North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un’s ex­iled half brother was so high that it killed him within 20 min­utes and caused “very se­ri­ous paral­y­sis.”

Kim Jong Nam died Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur’s air­port in what Malaysian po­lice say was a well-planned hit by two women who wiped a liq­uid on Kim’s face. Po­lice re­vealed Fri­day that the banned VX nerve agent, a chem­i­cal weapon, was used to kill Kim.

Health Min­is­ter Subra­ma­niam Satha­si­vam said the dose of VX given to Kim was so high that he showed symp­toms within min­utes. Kim fainted at the air­port clinic and died in the am­bu­lance while en route to a hospi­tal, the health min­is­ter said.

“VX only re­quires 10 mil­ligrams to be ab­sorbed into the sys­tem to be lethal, so I pre­sume that the amount of dose that went in is more than that,” he said at a news con­fer­ence. “The doses were so high and it did it so fast and all over the body, so it would have af­fected his heart, it would have af­fected his lungs, it would have af­fected ev­ery­thing.”

Asked how long it took for Kim to die af­ter he was at­tacked, Subra­ma­niam said, “I would think it was about, from the time of on­set, from the time of ap­pli­ca­tion, 15-20 min­utes.”

Malaysia hasn’t di­rectly ac­cused the North Korean govern­ment of be­ing be­hind the at­tack, but of­fi­cials have said four North Korean men pro­vided two women with the poi­son to carry it out. The four men fled Malaysia on the day of the killing, while the women — one from In­done­sia and the other Viet­namese — were ar­rested.

Ex­perts say the nerve agent used to kill Kim was al­most cer­tainly pro­duced in a so­phis­ti­cated state weapons lab­o­ra­tory and is banned un­der an in­ter­na­tional treaty. But North Ko­rea never signed the treaty, and it has spent decades de­vel­op­ing a com­plex chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram.

Kim was not an ob­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal threat to his es­tranged half brother, Kim Jong Un. But he may have been seen as a po­ten­tial ri­val in North Ko­rea’s dy­nas­tic dic­ta­tor­ship, even though he had lived in ex­ile for years.

North Ko­rea has de­nied any role in the at­tack.

Ear­lier Sun­day, Subra­ma­niam said the state chem­istry de­part­ment’s find­ing of the VX toxin con­firmed the hospi­tal’s au­topsy re­sult that sug­gested a “chem­i­cal agent caused very se­ri­ous paral­y­sis” that led to death “in a very short pe­riod of time.”

He said the fi­nal au­topsy re­port would be sub­mit­ted to po­lice soon.

Subra­ma­niam said there have been no re­ports of any­one else be­ing sick­ened by the toxin, but that med­i­cal work­ers who at­tended to Kim would re­main un­der ob­ser­va­tion for pos­si­ble de­layed ef­fects.

Tens of thou­sands of pas­sen­gers have passed through the air­port since the ap­par­ent as­sas­si­na­tion was car­ried out. No ar­eas were cor­doned off, and pro­tec­tive mea­sures were not taken.

Early Sun­day, more than a dozen of­fi­cers in pro­tec­tive gear swept the bud­get ter­mi­nal where Kim was at­tacked and said they found no traces of VX.

Ab­dul Samah Mat, the po­lice of­fi­cial lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said the ter­mi­nal was “free from any form of con­tam­i­na­tion of haz­ardous ma­te­rial” and de­clared it a “safe zone” af­ter a two-hour sweep.

He also said a con­do­minium on the out­skirts of Kuala Lumpur that was raided by po­lice ear­lier this month had been rented by the four North Korean sus­pects who left the coun­try. He said po­lice were still test­ing a seized sub­stance for traces of any chem­i­cals.

Ab­dul Samah said the In­done­sian wo­man who was ar­rested, Siti Aisyah, threw up in a taxi on the way from the air­port af­ter the at­tack but is fine now. He said that more tests were needed to de­ter­mine if the two ar­rested sus­pects were given an­ti­dotes so the nerve agent wouldn’t kill them.

An an­ti­dote, at­ropine, can be in­jected af­ter ex­po­sure and is car­ried by medics in war zones where weapons of mass de­struc­tion are sus­pected.

On Satur­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the In­done­sian and Viet­namese em­bassies met with the two ar­rested women, who both said they thought they were part of a prank show. Aisyah said she was paid the equiv­a­lent of $90, ac­cord­ing to An­dri­ano Er­win, In­done­sia’s deputy am­bas­sador to Malaysia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.