KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police are looking for four more North Korean suspects in their investigation into the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam, a senior official said on Sunday (Feb 19) in the police's first press conference on the assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The four, aged between 33 and 57, left Malaysia on Feb 13, the same day Mr Kim was attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) by two women with what is believed to be poison, deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said at the briefing attended by scores of Malaysian and international media.
He gave the names of the four suspects as Ri Ji Hyon, Hong Song Hac, O Jong Gil, and Ri Jae Nam. However, he would not say where they had departed to.
Investigators are also seeking another three people to assist in the probe, Mr Noor Rashid said.
He would not comment on whether the suspects were acting under orders from the North Korean government. Mr Kim's dramatic murder is widely believed to have been carried out by North Korean agents at the orders of his younger half-brother Kim Jong Un.
"The police force investigation, we are not interested in political and other elements. What we are interested in is why they commit such crime in our country. Our job is to reveal the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice," Mr Noor Rashid told reporters.
Mr Kim was at KLIA2 to catch a flight to Macau at about 9am last Monday when he was attacked by two women. He had arrived from Macau on an AirAsia flight on Feb 6, using a passport with the name Kim Chol, said Mr Noor Rashid.
Shortly after the attack, Mr Kim told customer service at KLIA2 that two women "swabbed or wiped" some liquid on his face, said Mr Noor Rashid.
The 45-year-old eldest son of former North Korean paramount leader Kim Jong Il was taken to KLIA2's medical centre and then to hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival, the police official added.
Four people have been arrested as part of the probe, Mr Noor Rashid noted at the briefing on Sunday. They are: the suspected female assassins from Vietnam and Indonesia, Doan Thi Huong and Siti Aisyah; Muhammad Farid bin Jallaludin, a Malaysian man said to be the Indonesian suspect’s boyfriend, and North Korean Ri Jong Chol, an IT worker based in Kuala Lumpur.
The post-mortem on Mr Kim's body to ascertain the cause of death was done on Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, but Mr Noor Rashid said the authorities were still waiting for results of the toxicology and pathological test.
"This is a very, very important investigation, and the hospital is looking at every aspect of it. We have to send a sample to the chemistry department, we have to send the samples for toxicology test. And in a few days we will have the result," he said.
Asked to confirm the type of poison used on Mr Kim, Mr Noor Rashid would only say it was "still in the process".
"The case will be referred to the public prosecutor for further instructions and investigations," he added.
He repeated an appeal for Mr Kim's next-of-kin to step forward to help with the probe into his killing, saying that police would look at "the next option" if no one has come forward two weeks from the date of death.
North Korean diplomats in Malaysia had tried but failed to stop the autopsy on Mr Kim's body. They have also asked the Malaysian authorities to release the body of Mr Kim, but Malaysian police said the body is not going anywhere until the North Korean side provides a DNA sample from a family member.
"Up to now, we haven't met the next of kin, so we are working, we are trying very hard to get the next of kin to come and assist us in the investigation," said Mr Noor Rashid.
"Those very close to him. Brothers, sisters, son, wife. And I would like to reiterate that, number one we have to confirm the identity of the people that come forward. They have to produce evidence, pertaining to their identity, who they are, what are their relation to the deceased. When we are satisfied then we will proceed."