Two women accused of killing Kim Jong-Nam re-enact events at Kuala Lumpur Airport

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The two women accused of killing Kim Jong-Nam, the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, are visiting the crime scene at Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia as part of a re-enactment of the fatal attack.

Malaysia_Kuala Lumpur_Kim Jong-Nam trial defendants Siti Aisyah (left from Indonesia) and Doan Thi Huong (right, from Vietnam)_Oct 2017The entourage also at the Kuala Lumpur airport Tuesday includes the prosecutors, defense lawyers and the judge hearing the murder trial. Re-enactments are common in Malaysian trials and are meant to give participants a better perspective of events as they unfolded.

High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin visited the check-in kiosk in the budget terminal where the two women alleged smeared VX nerve agent onto Kim Jong Nam’s face on February 13. Security footage shown previously during the trial showed the women, Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, rushing to restrooms afterward to wash their hands.

Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, was murdered on February 13, at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpurs main airport. Malaysian police claimed shortly after the incident that preliminary results from dry swabs indicated that Kim was killed with the XV nerve agent. A statement issued by police explicitly stressed that the XV agent is classified as a “weapon of mass destruction”.

By the end of February the “weapons of mass destruction” narrative was further underpinned when the police forensic team, fire department and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board conducted a sweep at Kuala Lumpur Airport.

Sweep for evidence at Kuala Lumpur Airport conducted two weeks after incident
Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

It must be stressed that the sweep was only conducted at 1 a.m. on February 26 (1700 GMT on Feb. 25), as stated police. As far as nsnbc is informed, there were no North Korean or other credible, independent experts present during that seriously delayed sweep.

The sweep adds to what one in cases of high-profile investigations could describe as shoddy investigative work with questionable chains of evidence, custody of evidence and other left-handed forensic and criminological work that invokes political posturing and scapegoating.

Moreover, the Royal Malaysia Police issued a statement, saying that the results of dry swab tests on the “death of a North Korean national” identified the chemical as “Ethyl S-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate”, also known as “VX nerve agent”. The statement (full text here), however, didn’t explain anything about the chain of evidence, the methodology used during the post-mortem” and “dry swabs”. Instead, the statement explicitly underpinned that VX is “listed as a chemical weapon under schedule 1 of the chemical weapons act of 2005 and the chemical weapons convention of 1997.

Several international media would build on the “statement” stressing that North Korea was one of only 4 countries that had not signed the chemical weapons convention. Others, especially British media, quoted “unnamed Chinese government sources” as stating that an assassination of Kim Jong-Nam with the use of the VX nerve agent could be interpreted as “an act of war”.

However, it may be noteworthy that Ethyl S-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate a.k.a. VX was developed in the UK in the 1950s. It kills through a metabolic process that suffocates the victim by leading to muscle contractions, including contractions of muscles that are vital for the respiratory system. The United Nations classifies VX as “a weapon of mass destruction”.

Moreover, VX is less volatile than many other nerve agents and could have been used by applying it to a scarf or piece of cloth for then to wipe the victim’s skin or face with it. However the fact that XV isn’t very volatile and that the sweep was only conducted long after the fact makes it unlikely that any traces will be found, that the chain of evidence of any traces that may be discovered is highly questionable ….

No re-enactment can change the fact that the “evidence” at the airport was retrieved about two weeks after the incident – a fact that has many asked the question how the court could accept this evidence at all.

CH/L – nsnbc 24.10.2017

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