Monday 20 November 2017

Malaysia will give Kim's family time to claim body

Malaysia has said it will give relatives of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half brother two to three weeks to claim his body before deciding its fate.

The country's government says Kim Jong Nam died after two women smeared his face with a banned nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur's airport last month.

North Korea rejects the findings and has demanded the body be returned.

Pyongyang has also refused to acknowledge that Kim Jong Nam was the victim and has referred to him as Kim Chol, the name on the passport Mr Kim was carrying when he was attacked.

On Friday, Malaysian police confirmed that Kim Chol and Kim Jong Nam referred to the same person.

Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said Malaysia now hopes Mr Kim's family members will claim the body.

He said: "Now with the positive identification of the body, we are told that he had a wife or wives and children.

"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," he said.

The body is being kept at a morgue at a Kuala Lumpur hospital.

Since Kim's death, relations between the two countries have steadily deteriorated, with each expelling the other's ambassador.

Last Tuesday, North Korea blocked all Malaysians from leaving the country until a "fair settlement" of the case was reached. Malaysia then barred North Koreans from exiting its soil.

Both countries have also scrapped visa-free travel for each other's citizens.

Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of being behind the attack, many speculate that Pyongyang must have orchestrated it.

Experts say the VX nerve agent used to kill Mr Kim was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory, and North Korea is widely believed to possess large quantities of chemical weapons.

Four of the seven North Korean suspects being sought by Malaysia are believed to have left the country the day Mr Kim was killed. Police say the other three suspects, including a North Korean diplomat, are believed to be in hiding at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The attack was caught on surveillance video that shows two women going up to Mr Kim and apparently smearing something on his face. He was dead within 20 minutes, authorities say.

Two women - one Indonesian, one Vietnamese - have been charged with murder but say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank.

AP

Press Association

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