A month after death, Malaysia gives Kim Jong-nam's family three more weeks to claim body from morgue
Kim Jong-nam died after two women smeared his face with the banned VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on February 13
Malaysia’s health minister said on Monday the government will give relatives of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half brother two to three weeks to claim his body before deciding what to do with it.
Malaysian authorities said Kim Jong-nam died after two women smeared his face with the banned VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on February 13 but North Korea – which is widely suspected to be behind the attack – rejected the findings.
North Korea demanded the body back from day one and objected to Malaysia’s autopsy. Pyongyang also refused to acknowledge Kim Jong-nam was the victim and referred to him as Kim Chol, the name on the passport Kim was carrying when he was attacked in a crowded airport terminal.
On Friday, Malaysian police confirmed Kim Chol and Kim Jong-nam were indeed the same person but refused to say how they identified Kim.
However, sources close to the matter said Japan provided Malaysia with Kim’s fingerprints, obtained from when the Japanese government detained him back in 2001 at Narita international airport for trying to enter the country on a false passport. He told Japanese authorities at the time he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
“Now with the positive identification of the body, we are told that he had a wife or wives and children,” Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said.
“So we hope that those people will respond and come forward to claim the body. In the absence of that, then we will address it as a government ... in trying to find how we are going to take the next step.
“I think after identification, we’ll give ourselves about two to three weeks to solve the problem.”
The body has been kept at a morgue at a Kuala Lumpur hospital.
The sources said Malaysia also made inquiries to Japan around February 22 regarding the location of Kim Jong-nam’s son Kim Han-sol, believed to have been living in Macau.
Kim Han-sol was considered key to identifying the body, with Malaysian authorities trying to collect DNA samples from family members to help finalise the identification procedure.
The whereabouts of Kim Han-sol and other family members have not been confirmed but a video emerged online on Wednesday of a man claiming to be Kim Han-sol, saying his father was “killed”.
Watch: video of man claiming to be Kim Jong-nam’s son
The footage was uploaded to the video-sharing website YouTube by a group called “Cheollima Civil Defence”, which claims to have been protecting Kim Jong-nam’s family.
In the wake of the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-nam, there have been concerns about the safety of his son, who called his uncle Kim Jong-un a dictator during an earlier interview.
Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of being behind the attack, many have argued Pyongyang must have orchestrated it. Experts have claimed the VX nerve agent used to kill Kim was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory, and North Korea is widely believed to possess large quantities of chemical weapons.
Additional reporting by Kyodo