Japan provides Kim Jong-nam’s fingerprints from 2001 Disneyland visit for Malaysia murder probe
The information is believed to have helped Malaysian investigators conclusively establish the victim’s identity as the 45-year-old brother of the North Korean leader
Japan provided Malaysia with fingerprint data of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the investigation into his apparent murder last month at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, sources close to the matter said.
The data was obtained from Kim Jong-nam when the Japanese government detained him back in 2001 at Narita international airport outside Tokyo for trying to enter the country on a false passport. He told Japanese authorities at the time that he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
The disclosure marks the first time that Japan’s assistance has come to light in the investigation into the fatal poison attack, which is widely believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea.
The United States and other countries are also believed to have been involved in the probe or lent a hand in the protection of family members fearful they might be targeted next by the regime.
The identity of the deceased has been among the contentious issues between Malaysia and North Korea, whose once-cozy ties have sharply deteriorated in the wake of the incident.
North Korea has referred to him as its citizen Kim Chol, the name that appeared in the diplomatic passport he was travelling on when he died. It also insists that he died from a heart attack.
According to the sources, immediately following the attack at the airport, in which two women smeared the deadly nerve agent VX on his face, Malaysian authorities did not initially recognise him as Kim Jong-nam and contacted the South Korean Embassy before notifying the North Korean Embassy.
Japan, for its part, offered data on Kim Jong-nam’s physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and mugshots, they said.
The information is believed to have helped Malaysian investigators conclusively establish the victim’s identity as the 45-year-old brother of the North Korean leader.
The sources said Malaysia also made inquiries to Japan around February 22 regarding the location of Kim Jong-nam’s son Kim Han-sol, who is believed to have been living in Macau.
Kim Han-so was seen as key to identifying the body, with Malaysian authorities trying to collect DNA samples from family members to help finalise the identification procedure.
Without revealing how the identity was confirmed, citing “security” reasons, Malaysian national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar announced Friday that they made a final confirmation that the body is Kim Jong-nam. A police source said DNA samples were obtained through a “special way.”
Watch: video of man claiming to be Kim Jong-nam’s son
The whereabouts of Kim Han-sol and other family members remain unknown, but a video emerged online Wednesday of a man claiming to be Kim Han-sol and saying his father was “killed”.
The footage was uploaded to the video-sharing website YouTube by a group called “Cheollima Civil Defense,” which it says has been protecting Kim Jong-nam’s family.
The group also said in a statement that their activities were supported by the Netherlands, China, the United States, and another country to remain unnamed.
In the wake of the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-nam, there have been concerns over the safety of his son, who called his uncle Kim Jong-un a dictator during a media interview in the past.