Monday 22 January 2018

Hunt for 'LOL' woman over death of Kim's brother

Grainy CCTV footage shows a woman sought by police over Kim Jong-nam’s murder. Photo: AP
Grainy CCTV footage shows a woman sought by police over Kim Jong-nam’s murder. Photo: AP

Arthur Lim

Kim Jong-nam wrote to his half-brother Kim Jong-un in 2012 asking the recently anointed dictator of North Korea to spare his life and that of his family, the head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service revealed yesterday.

It comes as new pictures of a woman, wearing a shirt with the letters 'LOL', alleged to have been linked to the assassination team that killed Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur have been released by Malaysian media.

Mr Kim (45) died on Monday after collapsing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to board a flight back to Macau, where he was living in exile.

Malaysian authorities have detained a woman in connection with the investigation. The woman, in her 20s, was detained in the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Bernama news agency reported.

There are two female suspects and four male, police sources said. "One of the girls was told to hold a handkerchief on the face of the victim after he'd been sprayed by the other girl," an unnamed senior police officer said. "She held it there for 10 seconds. She said she thought spraying him had been a 'prank'."

"One female suspect seen on CCTV was found wandering in the airport," police said. She had apparently been "left behind" by the other assailants. The suspects were both Vietnamese and North Korean, police sources said.

Grainy CCTV images published online show a woman wearing a white shirt bearing the letters 'LOL' and a blue skirt.

She is carrying a small handbag over one shoulder.

The image emerged amid conflicting reports over the fate of the two women believed to have killed Mr Kim. Sources in Japan suggested that the two women were also dead, potentially having committed suicide.

A taxi driver, who is in his 30s, was also arrested soon after CCTV footage had been analysed.

"We have already looked through the CCTV footage, hence we managed to arrest the taxi driver who had taken the two women who carried out the assassination," said the senior police official who asked not to be named.

The women are thought to be agents of a foreign country, he said, refusing to speculate if they were hired by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, who is suspected of ordering the murder.

The North Korean government has sent a senior diplomat to Malaysia, the officer stated, and asked that a post-mortem examination of the body does not take place. The request was denied.

Lee Byong-ho, the director of the agency, told a meeting of the government's Intelligence Committee that Mr Kim had been murdered with poison and that he had survived at least one previous attempt on his life, Yonhap News reported.

After that assassination attempt, in 2012, Kim Jong-nam wrote to his brother and asked that no further attacks be directed at him or his family.

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