The trial of two women accused of killing the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un enters its second week with the court moving temporarily to a high-security lab to view evidence tainted with the toxic VX nerve agent.
High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin declared that prosecutors and defence lawyers, along with the two suspects, will hold court at the laboratory for chemical weapons analysis to examine samples of the women’s clothing before they are formally submitted as evidence.
The decision came after government chemist Raja Subramaniam told the court that VX found on the clothing may still be active.
Such a move is not unusual in criminal cases in Malaysia, where judges often visit crime scenes.
Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, lawyer for Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong, told The Associated Press that the visit to Raja’s lab is purely for safety reasons.
He said the concept of holding a formal court session at the lab is to legalise the visit, which is expected to take an hour, after which the trial will resume in the court building.
Huong and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia pleaded not guilty at the start of their trial last week to charges of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing VX on his face at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13. They face a mandatory death sentence if convicted.
Defence lawyers have said the women were duped by suspected North Korean agents into believing they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden TV-camera show.
VX is banned by an international treaty as a weapon of mass destruction but is believed to be part of North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s dynastic rulers but was believed to have been cast out by his father and had lived abroad for years.
He reportedly never met current leader Kim Jong Un, who is widely believed to have perceived his older sibling as a threat and targeted him for assassination.