HKL pathologist could not confirm body was of Kim Jong-nam, High Court heard

Hariz Mohd and Khairah N. Karim

SHAH ALAM: Forensic pathologist in Kim Jong-nam murder case could not confirm the identity of the deceased, the High Court was told today. Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) Forensics Department head Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood said they did not have a second DNA set to compare with the victim's, who died after allegedly being attacked with VX nerve agent at about 9am at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Feb 13. During cross-examination on the third day of trial, Dr Shah said the deceased was identified as Kim Chol based on North Korean passport that he held. This came after defence counsel Datuk Naran Singh, who acted on behalf of accused Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, asked whether he (Dr Shah) agreed that the deceased's identity as Kim Chol was confirmed after a DNA comparison with samples taken from Kim Chol's son. "DNA comparison could not be conducted because there was only one DNA set, which is from the victim," said Dr Shah. To this, Naran, who is a part of three-man defence lawyers appointed by the Vietnamese embassy, asked if the pathologist agreed that he could not be absolutely sure of the victim's name. "Doctor, do you agree that you cannot be really sure that the deceased was indeed Kim Chol, as there was no next-of-kin, the victim was also not asked for his name when he was taken to the clinic at KLIA2, and the passport was only found on a table? Do you agree or disagree? Dr Shah: "I agree". Earlier, Dr Shah told the court that a post-mortem on the victim was delayed to Feb 15, due to objection from Korean embassy, instead of a day earlier when HKL received the body. He also agreed to a suggestion by Naran that there was pressure from other parties on the case. Meanwhile, Dr Shah while agreeing to the defence's argument that there was a possibility that the victim's death could be caused by a heart attack, maintained that it was "very unlikely". He cited that examination on Kim Chol's heart did not show any new or old sign of a heart attack. Later, during re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam, Dr Shah told the court that in case of VX nerve agent, qualitative data alone would suffice to rule cause of death. This, he added, was against the case with most other poisons where quantitative data was potent. "There are two reasons (why qualitative data is enough in VX case), the first being that VX nerve agent is not available naturally, and secondly, VX (was made) only for one use, which is as a chemical weapon listed under the Chemical Weapons Convention 1997 list." The prosecution also introduced its seventh witness, Datin Dr S. Ranjini from Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, who testified as an expert in clinical toxicology. The court was adjourned at about 5pm, and would resume 9am on Thursday. The prosecution is expected to bring in Dr S. Raja, an expert from the Chemistry Department's Chemical Weapons Centre. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd