Malaysia police raid condo unit on suspicion it was used as nerve agent lab, court told

The Malaysian residence of North Korean citizen Ri Jong Chol (centre) was raided after police suspected the premises were used as a clandestine lab to produce nerve agent VX - the poison that killed Kim Jong Nam.
The Malaysian residence of North Korean citizen Ri Jong Chol (centre) was raided after police suspected the premises were used as a clandestine lab to produce nerve agent VX - the poison that killed Kim Jong Nam.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHAH ALAM - The Malaysian residence of North Korean citizen Ri Jong Chol was raided after police suspected the premises were used as a clandestine lab to produce nerve agent VX - the poison that killed Kim Jong Nam.

Lead investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, who is the ninth witness, told the Malaysian High Court on Thursday (Nov 9) that police seized a bottle of chloride, pink gloves, toothbrush and US$38,000 (S$51,745) in cash at a condominium unit in Kuala Lumpur. He did not say when the raid was conducted.

Mr Wan Azirul Nizam was testifying in the trial of Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28.

The women have been charged with the murder of Mr Kim, 45, by allegedly smearing lethal nerve agent VX on his face as he waited for his Kuala Lumpur flight to Macau on Feb 13. Mr Kim was the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

During the cross examination in court on Thursday by defence counsel Gooi Soon Seng, Mr Wan Azirul said four mobile phones, four SIM cards, two tablets, two laptops and a desktop were also confiscated during the raid.

He added that Jong Chol was arrested for almost two weeks on Feb 17 before being deported to North Korea on Mar 3.

The court was told that Jong Chol, 47, was a science graduate who majored in Chemistry.

"He is also an expert in IT," the policeman added.

In previous proceedings report, Jong Chol was established as the registered owner of Naza Ria - a vehicle used to transport three at-large suspects from the second terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, or KLIA2, where Mr Kim was killed. They were driven to KLIA's main terminal where the three North Korean men flew out that same day.

Mr Wan Azirul, the police investigator, had previously testified that the police did not have enough evidence to press charges on Jong Chol and another local suspect, Farid Jalaluddin who is Siti Aisyah's boyfriend.

The court was told that the confiscated items, excluding the cash, were sent to a forensics department, but that the items were never tested for VX poison.

When asked to produce the forensics report on the items, Mr Wan Azirul failed to do so. That prompted High Court judge Azmi Ariffin to order him to bring it during the next trial date.

Mr Wan Azirul said the handphones were later returned to Jong Chol on the day he was deported, on March 3.

To a question by Mr Gooi, Mr Wan Azirul said no subpoena, or police bond, was issued to Jong Chol to compel him to stand as a witness in the trial as he felt that there was no need for it at the time of investigations.

The police witness also admitted that he only took Jong Chol's statement once, after the arrest. He agreed to Mr Gooi's question that it would be impossible to call him back as a witness for the trial since the North Korean had left the country.

The hearing continues next Monday (Nov 13).

 

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