A MALAYSIAN judge and court officials wore face masks and surgical gloves in court as samples were admitted as evidence of where VX nerve agent was found on the body and clothing of the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader.

On the third day of the murder trial of the two women accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, government pathologist Mohamad Shah Mahmood said chemist’s tests had detected VX, as well as VX precursors and VX byproducts, in Kim’s eye mucus, on his face, in his blood and urine, and on his clothing.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers then took a 20-minute break to examine those samples, which were sealed in transparent plastic bags. Most of them wore gloves and masks as a safety precaution after prosecutors warned the VX-tainted items may still be dangerous. After the break, Judge Azmi Ariffin also covered himself as the samples were officially admitted as evidence.

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The two suspects, Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, have pleaded not guilty to murder charges which could bring the death penalty if they are convicted. They have not given evidence but their defence has said the women believed they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show and were tricked by men suspected of being North Korean agents.