Child's DNA helps to identify Kim Jong Nam

Members of the media waiting outside the forensics wing of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where the body of Mr Kim Jong Nam was being kept, on Tuesday.
Members of the media waiting outside the forensics wing of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where the body of Mr Kim Jong Nam was being kept, on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Half-brother of North Korean ruler had at least three children from two marriages

Malaysia yesterday said it identified Mr Kim Jong Nam, the murdered half-brother of North Korea's leader, through DNA samples from one of his children.

Days after police confirmed the man killed on Feb 13 from chemical poisoning was Mr Kim, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters the verification was done through DNA testing.

Said Datuk Seri Zahid: "The police chief had verified the body as Kim Jong Nam based on samples obtained from the deceased's child. The sample was placed according to forensic and DNA procedures."

Meanwhile, a Japanese newspaper reported yesterday that a team dispatched by North Korea to kill Mr Kim trained for the attack at least 10 times.

Asahi Shimbun quoted Indonesian authorities as saying one of the assailants, Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, practised in Cambodia in late January on three occasions. The other assailant, Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong, visited Cambodia in January, according to her Facebook posts. Seven more rehearsals were held in Kuala Lumpur, including at the airport, a shopping mall, hotels and a train station, the paper quoted sources as saying.

Mr Kim was travelling with a diplomatic passport under the name of Kim Chol when he was attacked by the two women at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before he could board his flight.

THE CLINCHER

The police chief had verified the body as Kim Jong Nam based on samples obtained from the deceased's child.

The sample was placed according to forensic and DNA procedures.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, on how Mr Kim was identified.

North Korea has rejected Malaysia's findings and insisted that the dead man was not Mr Kim, who had been estranged from his brother, Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un.

Bilateral relations between the countries have since turned sour, with Pyongyang barring Malaysians from leaving North Korea and the Malaysian government reciprocating the move.

Nine Malaysians, made up of embassy staff and their families, are still in Pyongyang.

Malaysia said earlier this week that 50 North Korean workers with expired visa will be deported.

Talks with North Korea to get the Malaysian citizens home, which Mr Zahid said began on Monday, are still ongoing.

The government is "looking into all possibilities", Mr Zahid said, when asked if Malaysia would consider swopping the two North Korean suspects in Malaysia with the nine Malaysians in Pyongyang.

Previous reports by local daily New Straits Times suggested that Mr Kim was identified through his face moles and tattoos, while its report yesterday said two jewellery pieces found hanging on his neck helped validate his identity.

Old photos of Mr Kim taken in public showed a similar pendant of a Buddha, while another pendant had a digitally engraved image of his wife and son.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Child's DNA helps to identify Kim Jong Nam'. Print Edition | Subscribe