Malaysian police confirm identity of Kim Jong Nam

No details on how body was identified, while Pyongyang insists dead man was Kim Chol

Malaysia has positively identified the man killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13 as Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar refused to say yesterday how the body was identified.

"We have established that Kim Chol is Kim Jong Nam. We have fulfilled requirements of the law for his identification," he told reporters, referring to the name on the man's diplomatic passport, which Pyongyang insists is his true identity. "For the safety of the witnesses, I will not divulge details."

The police chief added that Mr Kim's body will now be handed to the Health Ministry, as investigations on the identity are completed.

However, he revealed that none of Mr Kim's relatives have stepped forward to claim the body. The authorities had earlier insisted that they would require a DNA match to identify and release Mr Kim's remains to his next of kin.

"That's our job, not your job," he responded, when asked how the body was identified.

The United States and South Korea have alleged that Pyongyang ordered the poisoning of its leader's estranged sibling, who had been living in exile. But it has denied this, insisting the man is Kim Chol and that he died of a "heart stroke".

POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION

We have established that Kim Chol is Kim Jong Nam. We have fulfilled requirements of the law for his identification. For the safety of the witnesses, I will not divulge details.

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE KHALID ABU BAKAR

Malaysia says an autopsy revealed that he died after exposure to the lethal VX nerve agent, listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. Yesterday, world chemical watchdog Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons condemned the use of VX and asked its director-general, Mr Ahmet Uzumcu, to "provide technical assistance" to Malaysia.

Pyongyang has accused Kuala Lumpur of subverting investigations as part of a conspiracy against it, leading to a worsening diplomatic spat that has resulted in both ambassadors being expelled, and reciprocal travel bans barring Malaysians from leaving North Korea and vice versa.

KL is now trying to gain the release of nine known citizens in Pyongyang - three diplomats and six family members - with Prime Minister Najib Razak calling for the nation to unite during this crisis.

"If we stand together in facing troubles or threats, enemies from outside will not be able to destroy everything we have built all this time," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Asian Cup qualifier football match with North Korea has been postponed because of the souring relations. The Malaysian squad had been due to play in Pyongyang on March 28.

About 1,000 North Koreans live in Malaysia, state news agency Bernama reported.

According to an unnamed source, these citizens largely worked in IT and formed organised intelligence networks which reported back to the embassy.


 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian police confirm identity of Kim Jong Nam'. Print Edition | Subscribe