KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The body of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the assassinated brother of North Korea’s leader, will not be released until his family has provided DNA samples, Malaysia said on Friday (Feb 17), despite a request from Pyongyang.
Detectives in Kuala Lumpur are trying to get to the bottom of the cloak-and-dagger murder that South Korea says was carried out by poison-wielding female agents working for North Korea.
Forensic specialists on Friday carrying out tests on samples from the dead man’s body to try to determine the toxin that was apparently sprayed in his face as he readied to board a plane to Macau on Monday.
North Korean diplomats have objected to the post-mortem examination, Malaysian officials say, but Kuala Lumpur has stood firm, and said it would not release the body until procedures were complete.
“So far no family member or next of kin has come to identify or claim the body. We need a DNA sample of a family member to match the profile of the dead person,” Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told AFP.
“North Korea has submitted a request to claim the body, but before we release the body we have to identify who the body belongs to,” he added.
Laboratory technicians working on blood and tissue samples would “conduct the analysis as soon as possible”, Dr Cornelia Charito Siricord of the science ministry’s chemistry department told national news agency Bernama.
Police were meanwhile questioning two women – one travelling on a Vietnamese passport and the other on an Indonesian document – as well as a Malaysian man.
The drama erupted on Monday morning as Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged elder brother of Mr Kim Jong Un, was about to board a plane to Macau.
Malaysian police said the 45-year-old was approached by two women who squirted some kind of liquid in his face. He told airport staff he was suffering from a headache and was taken to the airport clinic grimacing in pain, according to Malaysian media citing CCTV footage from the airport. He was rushed to hospital suffering from a seizure but was dead before he arrived.
One of the women walked to a taxi stand immediately after the attack, according to the same footage.
South Korea has pointed the finger of blame at the North, citing a “standing order” from Mr Kim Jong Un to kill his sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticised the regime.
Pyongyang has made no comment on the killing, and there has been no mention of it in North Korean media.
AFP correspondents in Pyongyang say celebrations to mark the birthday of Mr Kim Jong Il, the late father of both men, have gone ahead without reference to the death.
Malaysian police on Wednesday arrested a 28-year-old woman carrying a Vietnamese passport which identified her as Doan Thi Huong.
Local media said she was the woman seen in CCTV images from the airport wearing a white top with the letters “LOL” emblazoned on the front.
Officers later arrested Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin, a 26-year-old Malaysian man. He led them to his girlfriend, a 25-year-old Indonesian named Siti Aishah according to her travel documents.
Jakarta confirmed late Thursday that Aishah was an Indonesian citizen and embassy officials were providing her with legal assistance.
Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah earlier told AFP he was looking for several more suspects, but declined to say how many were being sought.
Mr Kim Jong Nam was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, but after the latter's death in 2011, the succession went to his half-brother, who was born to the late leader’s third wife.
Reports of purges and executions have emerged from the current regime as Mr Kim Jong Un tries to strengthen his grip on power in the face of international pressure over nuclear and missile programmes.
The most notable of these was the 2013 execution for treason of the young leader’s influential uncle Jang Song Thaek.