Jong-nam murder

Kim Jong-nam's soiled pants suggest poison, says doctor in North Korean's murder trial

The doctor testifying in Malaysia said that VX nerve agent – the poison found on Jong-nam's body – can cause the body to lose control of its muscles

Madeleine Keck
November 28, 2017
Kim Jong-nam's soiled pants suggest poison, says doctor in North Korean's murder trial
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who has been detained in connection with the death of Kim Jong-Nam, is escorted by Malaysian police officers as they leave the Shah Alam High Court on 27 November 2017 Photo: Fazry Ismail/EPA

Dilated pupils and soiled underwear discovered during the postmortem of Kim Jong-nam are telling signs of poisoning, a Malaysian doctor told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur at the trial for the two defendants accused murdering the North Korean leader’s half-brother.

Medical forensic consultant at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Nurliza Abdulla – one of two government doctors who conducted Jong-nam’s autopsy – testified that both symptoms are caused by the VX nerve poison’s “cholinergic” effect that ultimately leads to a loss of muscle control throughout the body.

“The cause of death is due to acute nerve agent VX poisoning based on our autopsy and the lab test results,” Abdulla announced to deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin when the autopsy report was presented as evidence at Malaysia’s High Court on Monday.

“In general, defecation could be triggered when someone had made contact with pesticide or nerve agents, in this case VX nerve agent. His pupils were fixed but constricted which most of the time is due to poisoning.”

Abdulla, however, did concede with the defense counsel’s assertion that the postmortem alone wasn’t able to confirm VX as the cause of death. She declared that the autopsy conclusion came from the tests run by the chemical department that uncovered trace amounts of the nerve agent on Jong-nam’s body.
Abdulla was testifying as the 19th witness in the hearing of Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, the only suspects currently in custody for Jong-nam’s murder.

The defendants pleaded not guilty on 1 October to smearing the universally banned nerve agent on Jong-nam’s face at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 13 February. The North Korean is believed to have died less than two hours after allegedly coming into contact with the poisonous substance.

Monday’s court hearing was also attended by 18th witness Sergeant Shamsul Bahrin Abdullah, a policeman at the airport who told the court he contacted the North Korean embassy to inform them of what happened on the day of Jong-nam’s death.

Abdullah stated he spoke with a man identified as North Korean counsellor Kim Yu-song, who later called asking for details regarding the location of the body and date for postmortem.

“I told him that a North Korean citizen with a name Kim Chol had died and asked them to send a representative to the Putrajaya Hospital for identification. He did not respond to my inquiries and said thank you,” Abdullah said.

In the days after Jong-nam’s death, North Korea attempted to block the autopsy of the body and instead requested for officials to be present throughout the postmortem inspection.

The two women and their defense lawyers have long told the court they were used as scapegoats and deceived by North Korean agents into believing they were playing an innocent prank involving harmless oil for a TV show.

The prosecutors have argued that up to ten North Koreans devised a plot to murder exiled Jong-nam – a family member of the ruling dictatorship who rarely hesitated to speak out against the nuclear-armed nation in the past – subsequently lying to the women and then fleeing back to North Korea on the day of the attack.

The two women will face a mandatory death sentence if convicted.

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