North Korea says strong indication that heart attack is the cause of Kim Jong Nam's death

A South Korean man watches TV showing breaking news about the alleged assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, at a home in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do, South Korea, on Feb 14, 2017.
A South Korean man watches TV showing breaking news about the alleged assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, at a home in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do, South Korea, on Feb 14, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR - North Korea on Thursday (March 2) said there was a strong indication that a heart attack was behind the death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb 13. 

Mr Ri Tong Il, who is part of the high-level North Korean delegation in Kuala Lumpur seeking the release of Mr Kim's body, told reporters Mr Kim had a history of heart disease. 

Mr Kim, who was travelling under the name of Kim Chol, was at the airport to catch a flight to Macau when he was attacked by two women with the VX toxic nerve agent. 

South Korea and the United States say Mr Kim was assassinated by agents of the North Korean regime but Pyongyang claims the dead man was a North Korean travelling on a diplomatic passport by the name of Kim Chol. 

North Korea has also accused Malaysia of subverting investigations as part of a political conspiracy with its enemies.

"According to information we have, Kim Chol has a record of myocardial infarction disease. In other words, heart disease. He, from time to time, had treatment while being hospitalised," Mr Ri said.

Mr Ri added that under normal conditions, Mr Kim could not travel without medication for the disease. 

According to Mr Ri, Malaysian public health officials found medication related to a number of diseases - including diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure - in Mr Kim's belongings. "They came to conclude that he was not in a position to travel without (the) medicine. "Therefore this is a strong indication that the cause of death is a heart attack," he said. 

Mr Ri also cast doubt over the use of VX as the cause behind Mr Kim's death. He instead suggested that Malaysia send the samples to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to prove the nerve agent was indeed used. 

"In case it is proved by the two separate international laboratories with the same conclusion, then they should come to identify who's the one who made it? Who's the one who brought it into Malaysia? Who's the one who passed on this material to the two females?" he added.