Chemist: VX Traces Present on Kim Murder Suspects

Testimony is first evidence linking nerve agent to Siti Aisyah, Doan Thi Huong
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2017 5:33 AM CDT
Chemist: VX Traces Present on Kim Murder Suspects
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, center, is escorted by police as she leaves after the court hearing at Shah Alam court house in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Malaysia.    (Sadiq Asyraf)

A government chemist testified Thursday he found traces of the banned VX nerve agent on two women being tried in Malaysia on charges of murdering the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader. The testimony was the first evidence linking VX to Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, who are accused of smearing the nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam's face in a brazen assassination inside a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13. Raja Subramaniam, who heads the government's Center of Chemical Weapon Analysis, said he found VX in its pure form and VX precursors on Huong's white jumper and found a degraded product of VX on Huong's fingernails, reports the AP.

The chemist, who is the only Malaysian with a doctorate in chemical weapons analysis, said laboratory tests also detected VX acid, a degraded product of the nerve agent, on Aisyah's sleeveless T-shirt. He said VX will degrade once it is exposed to the atmosphere, and even faster when it is in contact with water. "The presence of VX precursors and VX degradation products confirms the presence of VX itself," he told the court. Raja also confirmed that he found VX on Kim's face, eyes, clothing, and in his blood and urine. Huong's lawyer said the defense has another explanation of why VX was present on the Vietnamese woman and would reveal this later. The trial is to resume Monday. Aisyah and Huong have pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, which could bring the death penalty if they are convicted, (More Kim Jong Nam stories.)

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