Lawyer for Vietnamese woman in Kim's death wants 2nd autopsy

AP News
Posted: Mar 06, 2017 12:16 AM

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A lawyer for one of the women accused of poisoning the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader says there are serious holes in the case.

In an interview published Sunday by Vietnam's state-run online newspaper Zing, attorney Selvam Shanmugam, who represents Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, said allegations that the North Korean man had existing health problems should be cause for a new autopsy.

Kim Yong Nam was fatally poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13, and so far Doan Thi Huong and an Indonesian woman have been charged with murder. Malaysian authorities say the toxic VX nerve agent was used in the attack.

North Korea has not acknowledged that the man was Kim Yong Nam, but identified him as Kim Chol, the name in his diplomatic passport.

Shanmugam's comments come after a North Korean official, the country's former ambassador to the U.N., said Kim Chol had heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.

"There were reasons for the North Korean ambassador to say so. I believe that there are issues that the Malaysian attorney general has to consider," Shanmugam was quoted as saying, adding "they should have a new autopsy."

Shanmugam said that if the VX nerve agent was used, why were the two women not harmed, or anyone else at the airport.

"Was it the toxic VX agent or Kim Chol's illnesses?" he said of the possible reasons for his death.

Shanmugam said he would meet Huong for the first time in prison on Monday.

Doan Van Thanh, Huong's father, told The Associated Press by telephone from his home village in northern Vietnam that he met Shanmugam on Saturday and agreed to have him represent his daughter.

"I believe that my daughter is not guilty," Thanh said.

The death of Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has unleashed a diplomatic battle between Malaysia and North Korea. Malaysian authorities said Kim died within 20 minutes after two women smeared his face with VX, a banned nerve agent considered a weapon of mass destruction.

North Korea has rejected Malaysia's autopsy finding that VX killed Kim.

The Malaysian government on Saturday gave Ambassador Kang Chol 48 hours to leave the country after he refused to apologize for his strong accusations over Malaysia's handling of the investigation into the killing.