Malaysian authorities refuse to release Kim Jong-nam’s body until family provides DNA samples
North Korean diplomats have objected to the postmortem examination, Malaysian officials say, but Kuala Lumpur has stood firm
The body of Kim Jong-nam, the assassinated brother of North Korea’s leader, will not be released until his family have provided DNA samples, Malaysia said on Friday, despite a request from Pyongyang.
Detectives in Kuala Lumpur are trying to get to the bottom of the cloak-and-dagger murder that South Korea says was carried out by poison-wielding female agents working for their secretive northern neighbour.
Forensic specialists were on Friday carrying out tests on samples from the dead man’s body to try to determine the toxin that was apparently sprayed in his face as he readied to board a plane earlier this week.
North Korean diplomats have objected to the postmortem examination, Malaysian officials say, but Kuala Lumpur has stood firm, and said on Friday it would not release the body until procedures were complete.
“So far no family member or next of kin has come to identify or claim the body. We need a DNA sample of a family member to match the profile of the dead person,” Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat said. “North Korea has submitted a request to claim the body, but before we release the body we have to identify who the body belongs to.”
Laboratory technicians working on blood and tissue samples would “conduct the analysis as soon as possible”, Dr Cornelia Charito Siricord of the science ministry’s chemistry department told national news agency Bernama.
Police were meanwhile questioning two women – one travelling on a Vietnamese passport and the other on an Indonesian document – as well as a Malaysian man.
The drama erupted on Monday morning as Jong-nam, the estranged elder brother of Kim Jong-un, readied to board a plane to Macau. Malaysian police say the 45-year-old was jumped by two women who squirted some kind of liquid in his face.
Jong-nam told staff he was suffering from a headache and was taken to the airport clinic grimacing in pain, according to Malaysian media citing CCTV footage from the airport.
One of the women walked to a taxi rank immediately after the attack, according to the same footage.
He was rushed to hospital suffering from a seizure but was dead before he arrived.
South Korea has pointed the finger of blame at the North, citing a “standing order” from Jong-un to kill his sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticised the regime.
Pyongyang has made no comment on the killing, and there has been no mention of it in North Korean media.
Malaysian police on Wednesday arrested a 28-year-old woman carrying a Vietnamese passport which identified her as Doan Thi Huong.
Local media said she was the woman seen in CCTV images from the airport wearing a white top with the letters “LOL” emblazoned on the front.
Officers later arrested Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin, a 26-year-old Malaysian man. He led them to his girlfriend, a 25-year-old Indonesian named Siti Aishah according to her travel documents.
Jakarta confirmed late on Thursday that Aishah was an Indonesian citizen and embassy officials were providing her with legal assistance.
Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah earlier said he was looking for several more suspects, but declined to say how many were being sought.
First-born Jong-nam was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, but on Kim Jong-il’s death in 2011 the succession went to Jong-un, who was born to the former leader’s third wife.
Reports of purges and executions have emerged from the current regime as Jong-un tries to strengthen his grip on power in the face of international pressure over nuclear and missile programmes.
The most notable of these was the 2013 execution for treason of the young leader’s influential uncle, Jang Song-thaek.