KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police believe that three Pyongyang operatives orchestrated the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam, a half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and watched from a close distance as the mission was carried out by two women, the New Straits Times (NST) newspaper said yesterday.
Closed-circuit TV footage shows the three "North Korean men" watching from an eatery called Bibik Heritage, located about 50m from the crime scene at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 terminal, last Monday, the report said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian police yesterday said they have detained a North Korean man to assist in investigations into the killing. He will be remanded for seven days.
Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that based on the i-KAD, which are identity cards given to foreign workers in the country, the suspect's name is Ri Jong Chol. The card shows that he is aged 46 and from North Korea.
"He is suspected to be involved in the death of a North Korean male," the police said in a statement.
FOUR SUSPECTS, FOUR DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES
The arrest of a North Korean man yesterday in connection with the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam is the fourth by Malaysian police. Two male suspects remain at large.
The four arrested so far are:
RI JONG CHOL, 46
The North Korean was arrested on Friday night. He was born on May 6, 1970, police said, and had a Malaysian i-Kad, which is an identification card given to foreign workers. " He is suspected to be involved in the death of a North Korean male," a police statement said yesterday.
SITI AISYAH, 25
The Indonesian from Serang, west of Java Island, was arrested at a hotel in Ampang early on Thursday. Among the items seized by police were three US$100 ($142) notes. Reports said that Siti Aisyah, a divorcee, worked as a guest relations officer at a spa in Ampang.
MUHAMMAD FARID JALALUDDIN, 26
The Malaysian is Siti Aisyah's boyfriend. He led police to the hotel where she was staying, after he was arrested on Wednesday evening.
DOAN THI HUONG, 29
The Vietnamese national was arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Wednesday as she was preparing to board a flight to Vietnam. She was called "LOL Girl" in Malaysian media after airport CCTV footage showed her wearing a white top with "LOL" on it.
She and Siti Aisyah told police they thought they were just playing a prank on Mr Kim when they approached him and splashed a liquid on him.
The men seen in the CCTV footage had been tracking the late Mr Kim's movements for a year to establish his travel pattern, NST reported, citing a high-ranking government source.
"Police say they are zooming in on the identities of three operatives from North Korea," NST said. "Investigators are looking at the possibility of them being part of the North Korean diplomatic mission here, or agents who had been flown in under diplomatic cover to carry out the hit, in which case, there is a possibility that they would have left the country by now."
The CCTV footage shows that the attack by the two women was carried out at 8.59am.
The recording also shows one of the women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, distracting Mr Kim, while the second woman, who has a Vietnamese passport under the name of Doan Thi Huong, put the victim in a chokehold before administering the poison.
Doan then took a taxi to Sky Star Hotel in Salak Tinggi, reaching it in about 10 minutes, and went up to Room 209.
She had stayed at two other small hotels in the last two nights before the hit - Qlassic Hotel and City View Hotel. The three hotels are within walking distance of one another.
Meanwhile, there is some confusion over whether Malaysia will conduct a second autopsy on Mr Kim, after North Korea refused to accept the results of the first. Yonhap news agency said a second autopsy is being planned.
North Korea's Ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Kang Chol, said late on Friday that he rejected the results of the autopsy because it was performed without the attendance of Pyongyang officials. He also accused Malaysia of "colluding with outside forces", in a veiled reference to the North's rival, South Korea.
Kuala Lumpur officials responded by saying Malaysia's rules must be followed, including carrying out an autopsy on Mr Kim because he died in the country.
However, Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told Bloomberg yesterday in a text message that "there is no such thing" as a second post-mortem.
A toxicology report on the body of Mr Kim could take up to two weeks, Malaysia's top health official told Agence France-Presse yesterday. "Normally it will take about two weeks to find out what was the cause of death... Until we find something conclusive we will not be able to release the report," said Health Minister S. Subramaniam.