J Forensic Sci Toxicol | Volume 2, Issue 1 | Review Article | Open Access

A Homicide Case of a North Korean: The Use of Nerve Agent VX

Nurliza Abdullah, Lay See Khoo* and Mohd Shah Mahmood

Department of Forensic Medicine, National Institute of Forensic Medicine (NIFM), Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

*Correspondance to: Lay See Khoo 

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The potential for chemical weapons to be used in terrorism is a real possibility as they are actually inexpensive chemicals found in many places. O-Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methyl phosphonothioate or better known as VX is one of the nerve agent designated as chemical warfare agent, listed in Schedule I of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This paper highlights a case of a North Korean whom was assassinated using a poisonous fluid, believed to be VX in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, Malaysia. Chronology of the incident is narrated until the victim was brought into the National Institute of Forensic Medicine (NIFM), Hospital Kuala Lumpur. Before the commencement of the postmortem examination, Postmortem Computed Tomography (PMCT) was performed by a forensic radiologist followed by fingerprint comparison. The fingerprint showed a match with the deceased’s name as stated in the passport. However, forensic odontology examination and DNA analysis could not reveal the identity of the deceased as disputed by the media as ante mortem data were not made available. A total of 122 specimens were taken from the deceased and were sent to various laboratories in different agencies to be analyzed. Subsequently, the laboratory results are presented covering the spectrum of analysis ranging from chemical weapon and poison, toxicology to the biochemical analysis including cholinesterase level. Finally, challenges faced by the team in the case management are discussed and a few recommendations are given to relevant authorities to equip their buildings with the special detector for chemical weapons, as well as to enhance both hospitals and mortuaries decontamination facilities and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the personnel.


Chemical Weapons; VX; Nerve Agents; OPCW


Abdullah N, Khoo LS, Mahmood MS. A Homicide Case of a North Korean: The Use of Nerve Agent VX. J Forensic Sci Toxicol. 2019;2(1):1009.

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