About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Health said on Tuesday that the cause of death and identity of the body believed to be Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un, are yet to be conclusively determined.
Malaysia’s Health Ministry said that the post-mortem examination was carried out on February 15 and completed on the same day.
“The medicolegal specimens were handed over to the Investigating Police Officer immediately after the post-mortem examination to be sent to accredited laboratories for analysis,” Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Director General of Health at the Malaysian Health Ministry, told reporters at a news conference.
The Forensics Division at the Department of Chemistry Malaysia received samples from the autopsy to examine the cause of the death, Dr. Noor Hisham said.
“These analyses are meant to confirm the identity of the deceased person and also the cause of the death,” he added. “Both of which are still pending at the moment. There has been ‘no second autopsy’ performed on the deceased person.”
But the Director General said there was “no evidence of a heart attack”, an apparent response to North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol’s claim on Monday afternoon that he had been told that Kim had died of a heart attack on the way to the hospital.
Significantly, too, Dr. Noor Hisham said that there was “nothing obvious for us to suggest any puncture marks or wounds”, contradicting earlier media reports that Kim had been stabbed with a poisoned needle.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim on Sunday publicly called for Kim’s family members to identify the body, who documents named as Kim Chol – widely thought to have been Kim Jong Nam’s alias when traveling abroad and using social media.
Malaysian authorities were working with some DNA and physical evidence, he noted.
“We do have the DNA specimens, we do have fingerprints and as well as the dental identification,” Dr. Noor Hisham said. “We need to match accordingly before we can identify a person.”
“We are still waiting for confirmation with regard to the next of kin as well as the medical records and dental records from the respective (DPRK) embassy. So, these are all in pending.”
Kim Han Sol, the eldest son of Kim Jong Nam, reportedly arrived in Malaysia on Monday evening amid a growing diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea over Kim’s body and the course of the investigation into his death.
But if Kim Han Sol is in Malaysia, he is yet to visit the hospital.
“At the moment, we do not have anyone claiming to be next of kin. And we are still waiting for them,” Dr. Noor Hisham told media, adding the Health Ministry hadn’t yet obtained DNA samples from Kim’s next of kin.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police said on Sunday that Kim’s family members must come to Malaysia to receive the body of Kim Jong Nam and gave a deadline of “two weeks”, saying they would “look for the next option” if Kim’s family members didn’t show up.
Despite Malaysian Police saying that Kim’s next of kin must claim the body, North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol demanded on Monday that Malaysian police return the body of the man believed to be Kim Jong Nam to DPRK representatives.
Defining Kim Jong Nam’s case as “sudden and suspicious death,” Malaysian police insist that Kim’s death “must be investigated.”
In response to Malaysian Police’s announcement, Kang maintained there was “no clear evidence on the cause of death”, that North Korea “cannot trust” the results of the investigation, and that authorities in Kuala Lumpur were collaborating with the DPRK’s enemies to smear the country.
“In the afternoon on 17th February, the Deputy Inspector General of Royal Malaysia Police informed us in the meeting of the absurd allegation that they would never release his body without the presence of his next of kin for identification and DNA test,” Kang told reporters.
Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs on Monday evening condemned Kang’s news conference in a written statement.
“When the Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on 20 February 2017, it was emphasized by the Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs that the police investigation has been done impartially without fear or favor. It was also conducted in compliance with Malaysian laws and regulations,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Any suggestion to the contrary is deeply insulting to Malaysia, as is the suggestion that Malaysia is in collusion with any foreign government.”
Kang was summoned to Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday after saying on Friday that the DPRK will “categorically reject the result of the postmortem” of Kim Jong Nam and accusing Malaysia of conspiring with “hostile forces” against them.
Four suspects are now in police custody. Last week Malaysian police detained two female suspects from Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as the Malaysian boyfriend of the Indonesian female suspect, and on Saturday said they had detained a North Korea by the name of Ri Jong Chol.
On Sunday, Malaysian police said they were pursuing seven more North Koreans, with five named and two unnamed, saying that four of them were believed to be back in Pyongyang.
Featured Image: Kim Chol Facebook