Interpol alert out for North Koreans wanted for Kim Jong Nam murder

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Malaysian police says Interpol has issued a red notice, the closest thing to an international arrest warrant, for four North Koreans wanted in connection with the murder of Kim Jong Nam.
File photo of Kim Jong Nam arriving at Beijing airport in China, on Feb 11, 2007. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - Malaysian police have secured an Interpol red notice for four North Koreans who are being sought for the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I would like to inform you that we have obtained Interpol red notice for the four North Korean nationals who were at the airport on the day of the incident and who have since left and we believe to be in Pyongyang now," inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Putrajaya on Thursday (March 16).

The red notice by the multinational law enforcement agency is the closest document to an international arrest warrant. Interpol circulates notices to member countries listing persons who are wanted for extradition.

The four North Koreans sought are Rhi Ji Hyon, 33, Hong Song Hac, 34, O Jong Gil, 55, and Ri Jae Nam, 57.

The four entered the country separately days before the incident on Feb 13 and left for Jakarta from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) just after Jong Nam's assassination.

Kim Jong Nam was killed on Feb 13, when Malaysian police say two women smeared toxic VX nerve agent on his face at the airport. The two women - one Vietnamese and one Indonesian - have been arrested and charged with murder.

Police requested Interpol's help last month to apprehend the four North Korean suspects.

Police are also are seeking to question three other North Koreans, including a diplomat, in connection with the murder. The police chief has said he believes the three are hiding in North Korea's embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Khalid on Thursday also reiterated that the police have handed Kim Jong Nam's body to the Health Ministry. "We will leave it to the Health Ministry and Wisma Putra to deal with the issue of the body," he said.

In another press conference, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said Kim Jong Nam's family has given permission to the Malaysian Government to manage his remains.

"Further action on the body is yet to be decided. However, for now, the family have given permission to our government to manage the body," he said.

Noor Rashid, however, declined to elaborate on where and when discussions with Kim Jong Nam's family took place.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed on Wednesday that Kim Jong Nam's body had been identified based on DNA samples provided by a child of the deceased.

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the government has not ruled out the possibility of handing over the body to North Korea in exchange for the nine Malaysians held there.

Asked if Malaysia would consider such a move, he replied: "We are looking into all possibilities."

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