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Tags: AS | Malaysia | North Korea

Pathologist: North Korean Had low Enzyme Due to Poisoning

Pathologist: North Korean Had low Enzyme Due to Poisoning

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 03:13 AM

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — The estranged half brother of North Korea's leader had extremely low levels of an enzyme vital for nervous system function due to poisoning, a Malaysian government pathologist testified Tuesday at the trial of two women accused of smearing VX nerve agent on his face in a brazen airport assassination.

Blood tests on the two murder suspects showed they had normal enzyme levels, said chemical pathologist Nur Ashikin Othman on the second day of their trial in Malaysia's High Court.

The potency of VX depends on the dosage or concentration, the type and duration of exposure and whether decontamination measures such as washing hands or taking an antidote were made, she added.

Gooi Soon Seng, the lawyer for Indonesian Siti Aisyah, told reporters the normal enzyme levels supported their assertion that the two women were not exposed to VX.

Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam pleaded not guilty to murder as their trial opened Monday in the death of Kim Jong Nam, a killing widely thought to have been orchestrated by North Korea. The woemn have said they thought they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show and were tricked by men suspected of being North Korean agents.

North Korea has a history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime and its chemical weapons arsenal is believed to include the banned VX nerve agent. Pyongyang has denied any role in the killing and hasn't even acknowledged the dead man was Kim Jong Nam.

Nur Ashikin told the court that tests on Kim's blood showed a very low level of 344 units per liter of the cholinesterase enzyme, which breaks down neurotransmitters in the body that send signals to the brain and controls the muscles. The normal level is above 5,300 units per liter, she said.

The low level of the enzyme "in Kim Chol's body could be caused by poison such as pesticide or nerve agent," she told the court.

She said poison such as VX will inhibit the enzyme level, cause heart and lung problems and symptoms such as profuse sweating and vomiting.

Earlier, airport clinic doctor Nik Mohamad Adzrul Ariff Raja Azlan testified Kim suffered from sudden respiratory failure that caused his heart to eventually stop. He said Kim was clutching his head in apparent pain before a seizure. Nik said he administered atropine to boost Kim's heart though he didn't know at the time that atropine was an antidote for nerve agents like VX.

The atropine and other medical treatment partly helped to stabilize Kim's blood pressure and oxygen level so he could be taken to the hospital.

Kim, who was 45 or 46, was the eldest son of the family that has ruled North Korea since its founding, yet he reportedly fell out of favor in 2001 when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He had been living abroad for years and at the time of his death was traveling on a North Korean diplomatic passport under the name "Kim Chol," the name being used in court.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Asia
The estranged half brother of North Korea's leader had extremely low levels of an enzyme vital for nervous system function due to poisoning, a Malaysian government pathologist testified Tuesday at the trial of two women accused of smearing VX nerve agent on his face in a...
AS,Malaysia,North Korea
528
2017-13-03
Tuesday, 03 October 2017 03:13 AM
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