PETALING JAYA, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian airport security video shows the poisoned half brother of North Korea’s leader apparently unconscious on a gurney and being pumped with oxygen by medical attendants as they wait for an elevator to take him to an ambulance.
The video reviewed by The Associated Press on Monday shows what may be Kim Jong Nam’s final recorded moments of life after he fell perilously ill at the international airport in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13. It emerged as the trial of two women accused of killing Kim by smearing VX nerve agent on his face at the behest of suspected North Korean agents is underway at Malaysia’s High Court.
The scene in the video appears almost casual, in contrast to the dramatic story of Kim’s death that topped news bulletins around the world. After the gurney carrying Kim’s motionless body is brought into an apparently authorized personnel-only area of the airport for transfer to an ambulance, one of the five people with him summons the elevator. It takes more than a minute to arrive and during that time the attendants, dressed in green uniforms, appear to talk while one squeezes a resuscitation device strapped to Kim’s face.
After the elevator doors slide open, the group still doesn’t leave for nearly another minute. One of the attendants, who doesn’t join the others in the elevator, tries to leave the secure area through a door but discovers it is locked. She is given a cellphone by one of the attendants in the elevator, apparently to call for assistance, but walks back to the elevator again for a brief discussion.
The video was first broadcast late Sunday by Japan’s Fuji TV. The network also broadcast another security video that it said shows one of the accused women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, meeting with a man believed to be a North Korean agent at an airport cafe shortly before the attack took place.
Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s dynastic rulers but lived in virtual exile as an apparent family outcast. North Korea experts say he may have been killed because he was perceived as a threat to the nation’s current leader, his younger sibling, Kim Jong Un.
The trial itself was moved temporarily Monday to a high-security laboratory to view the nerve agent-tainted clothes the suspects wore the day of the attack. The move was made after government chemist Raja Subramaniam testified last week that the VX nerve agent he found on the clothing may still be active.
His testimony was the first evidence linking VX to Aisyah and her co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam. Selvi Sandrasegaram, one of the lawyers for Aisyah, said Raja spent more than an hour showing VX-tainted evidence in a small room inside the laboratory at the chemist department.
Selvi said she was in the room along with Huong and two police officers, while the others watched through a glass screen outside the room. She said Huong wanted to go inside to have a closer look at the evidence, which included her fingernail clippings and a white jumper emblazoned with “LOL,” the acronym for “laughing out loud,” that she wore on the day of Kim’s death.
Raja also testified last week that VX was detected on Kim Jong Nam’s face, eyes, clothing, and in his blood and urine samples. That evidence was introduced in court in sealed bags, but the visit to the laboratory was arranged so the evidence from the women could be taken out of the bags for viewing.
Prosecutors have also said they will present airport security videos this week that show the two women carrying out the attack and indicate they knew they were handling poison. The two women pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last week to charges of murder that carry a mandatory death sentence if they are convicted. Defense lawyers have said the women were duped by suspected North Korean agents into believing they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden camera TV 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. Raja is to be cross-examined by defense lawyers when the trial resumes Tuesday.