Yorgen Fenech tried to buy cyanide but what is this chemical?

Fresh revelations show an alleged attempt by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech at procuring cyanide

Yorgen Fenech appeared in court for the continuation of the compilation of evidence against him
Yorgen Fenech appeared in court for the continuation of the compilation of evidence against him

During the continuation of the compilation of evidence against Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, a police inspector testified over pending investigations an attempt by Fenech to procure cyanide. 

The revelation was made by Inspector Kurt Zahra, who was being cross-examined by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family.

Fenech’s lawyers, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca, protesting in court that the assertion was untrue. The court magistrate, Rachel Montebello, ordered proceedings to continue.

READ ALSO: Caruana Galizia murder compilation hears how police are investigating Yorgen Fenech over attempt to procure cyanide

But what is cyanide?

Cyanide is a potentially deadly chemical that can cause seizures or heart attacks in a matter of seconds. It prevents heart muscle cells and nerve cells from using oxygen, causing the cells to die off once they use up their energy.

The chemical is more harmful to the heart and brain than to other organs because the heart and brain use a lot of oxygen.

Given its deadly properties and rapidly acting nature, various forms of cyanide have been used for deliberate human poisoning 

Deliberate cyanide poisoning is not uncommon, having been used for murder and suicide purposes.

Serial killer Leonard Lake had swallowed cyanide pills while in police custody, dying four days later. Cyanide was also used during the Chicago Tylenol murders, which saw seven people murdered after taking Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide.

Cyanide can be a colourless gas, such as hydrogen cyanide or cyanogen chloride, or a crystal form such as sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cyanide is sometimes described as having a “bitter almond” smell, but it does not always give off an odor, and not everyone can detect this odor.

Cyanide is also known by the military designations AC (for hydrogen cyanide) and CK (for cyanogen chloride).

Hydrogen cyanide, under the name Zyklon B, was used as a genocidal agent by the Germans in World War II. And reports have indicated that during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, hydrogen cyanide gas may have been used along with other chemical agents against the inhabitants of the Kurdish city of Halabja in northern Iraq.