Suspect practised before Kim Jong Nam murder, court told

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong: facing death by hanging if convicted AFP/MOHD RASFAN
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One of the women on trial for murdering the North Korean leader’s half-brother was filmed on CCTV apparently practising on another person two days before the assassination, a court heard on Tuesday (Oct 10).

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong was filmed at the airport where Kim Jong Nam was killed approaching someone from behind and gently wiping something on their face, a police officer testified.

It happened in the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s budget terminal, the same area where Kim was murdered.

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But officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz said the approach in that footage was gentle, in contrast to the “quite aggressive” fashion in which Kim was attacked as he waited at the airport.

Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, in their 20s, are accused of killing Kim on February 13 by rubbing the nerve agent VX on his face in a Cold War-style hit that stunned the world.

The women, who were arrested a few days after the killing and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un.

The defendants say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show, and their lawyers blame North Korean agents for the assassination.

On Tuesday the police officer described to the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, how Huong was filmed on Feb 11 apparently carrying out a practice run before allegedly killing Kim.

He said she appeared to choose a member of the public at random and wipe something on their face from behind in a gentle fashion.

“When the person turned to her direction, the accused Doan seemingly apologised,” he said.

She “bowed her head slightly and put her hands close together in the direction of the person”, he added.

The officer said that, in contrast, the footage of Kim being murdered was “quite rough, as if like an attack”.

“The action was quite aggressive,” he said, adding that Huong hurried off afterwards.

Prosecutors previously told the trial that the women carried out practice runs before assassinating Kim.


Earlier, government chemist Raja Subramaniam said that only a small amount of VX – but more than enough to kill him – was found on Kim’s face.

Kim had 0.2mg of VX per kg of body weight on his facial skin, well above the typical lethal dosage.

Asked if it was enough to kill, Raja responded: “I can’t give a direct answer to this. Based on concentration estimate, it is about 1.4 times the lethal dosage.”

He said that VX was also found on the collar of Kim’s blazer and its sleeves, which he likely used to wipe his face after the attack. Raja previously testified that VX was found on the defendants’ clothing, the first evidence linking them directly to the poison.

VX is listed by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction, and Kim died in agony shortly after being attacked.

On Monday the trial visited a high-security laboratory to examine the poison-tainted clothes worn by the women on the day of the attack.

The women are accused on the charge sheet of committing the murder with four other suspects, who have not been named and are still at large. Four North Koreans fled Malaysia on the day of the murder.

The assassination sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which is suspected of ordering the hit. Pyongyang denies the allegation.


Raja also said that no traces of VX or related chemicals on gloves and liquid seized from the home of a North Korean scientist.

Ri Jong Chol was one of the earliest suspects arrested in connection with the killing of kim Jong Nam. He was later deported over a lapsed work permit without being charged.

Lawyers for the accused, Siti Aisyah, however say this does not rule out the possibility of the VX being synthesized in a clandestine lab at Ri’s home – a theory they put to Raja.

Raja said this could not be ruled out neither could the possibility that VX or substances to make VX were brought into Malaysia from elsewhere.

The court also heard that the blazer worn by Kim Jong Nam on the day he died was sent back to North Korea along with other selected samples, including items of clothing and things in his possession. (Additional reporting by Sumisha Naidu.) Source: AFP

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