The body of Kim Jong-nam, the assassinated half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, will not be released until his family have provided DNA samples, Malaysia said yesterday, 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 neighbor.
Forensic specialists were carrying out tests on samples from Kim Jong-nam’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 post-mortem examination, Malaysian officials said, but Kuala Lumpur has stood firm and said 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,” he added.
DNA from a child, sibling — or even half-sibling — would be enough to provide a “kinship match” and confirm the identity, a Malaysian forensic investigator said.
Laboratory technicians working on blood and tissue samples from the autopsy would conduct tests “as soon as possible” to determine the cause of death, Cornelia Charito Siricord of the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s chemistry department told national news agency Bernama.
Police were 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 Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder brother of Kim Jong-un, readied to board a plane to Macau.
Malaysian police said the 45-year-old was jumped by two women who squirted some kind of liquid in his face.
Kim 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 Kim Jong-un to kill his sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticized the regime.
Pyongyang has made no comment on the killing, and there has been no mention of it in North Korean media.