Woman seen on CCTV is arrested after assassination of Kim Jong-un’s brother
Malaysian police probing the killing of the half-brother of North Korea’s leader arrested a woman Wednesday as they tried to unravel a cold war-style assassination the South said was carried out by Pyongyang’s agents.
As Seoul pointed the finger at poison-wielding female spies from North of their shared border, police in Kuala Lumpur said they were holding a woman with a Vietnamese passport, who had been identified from CCTV footage.
Her arrest came around 24 hours after news broke of the death of Kim Jong-Nam, the elder sibling of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, with reports saying female assassins had sprayed toxins in his face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
CCTV images that emerged in Malaysian media, purportedly of one of the suspects, showed an Asian woman wearing a white top with the letters “LOL” emblazoned on the front.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong was arrested at the airport on Wednesday morning – two days after the killing.
The suspect was “positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the time of arrest”, Khalid said in a statement.
Meanwhile, pathologists in Kuala Lumpur were examining the body of Kim for clues to how he died, as South Korea’s spy chief told lawmakers he “strongly suspected” he had been poisoned.
South Korea’s spy agency suspects two female North Korean agents assassinated the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader, South Korean lawmakers said earlier.
If confirmed, the assassination, which analysts said could have been ordered over reports he was readying to defect, would be the highest-profile death on Kim Jong-un’s watch since the 2013 execution of his uncle, Jang Song-yhaek, in a country with a long record of meting out brutal deaths.
South Korea’s spy chief Lee Byung-ho said the two women struck on Monday morning as Kim was readying to board a flight to Macau where he has spent many years in exile.
Malaysian police said Kim, a portly 45-year-old, was walking through the departure hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport when he was attacked.
“He told the receptionist ... someone had grabbed his face from behind and splashed some liquid on him,” Selangor state’s criminal investigation chief Fadzil Ahmat was reported as saying by Malaysia’s The Star newspaper.
“He asked for help and was immediately sent to the airport’s clinic. At this point, he was experiencing headache and was on the verge of passing out,” said Fadzil.
“At the clinic, the victim experienced a mild seizure. He was put into an ambulance and was being taken to the Putrajaya Hospital when he was pronounced dead,” he said.
The head of Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s forensics department, Mohamad Shah Mahmood, was taking part in the autopsy, according to an aide who asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak for the department.
An autopsy at Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s forensics department was completed by Wednesday evening, Selangor Police Chief Abdul Samah Mat said, but said no results had yet been issued by the hospital.
Outside the forensics department, a black Jaguar sedan bearing the North Korean flag pulled up on Wednesday afternoon, followed by another vehicle. Two men who emerged from the vehicles declined to speak to waiting media as they entered the building.
“The investigation is in progress. It covers everything including hunting down the possible suspects,” Abdul Samah Mat, chief of police of Selangor state which surrounds the capital, said.
Malaysian police are also analysing footage from a security camera at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, capturing two women who are suspected of attacking Kim.
CCTV images from the airport that emerged in Malaysian media of one of the suspects showed an Asian woman wearing a white top with the letters “LOL” emblazoned on the front.
Malaysia’s Oriental Daily reported that authorities are looking for four male and one female suspects, citing investigative sources.
Meanwhile, there were also unconfirmed reports that Malaysian police had found the bodies of the two North Korean women wanted in connection with the murder.
Additional reporting by Reuters, Kyodo, Agence France-Presse