Half-brother of N. Korean leader dead in Malaysia, reports claim he was murdered: Update female suspect detained
Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:23 UTC
Police earlier told Reuters that an unidentified man had died en route to the hospital from Kuala Lumpur Airport.
It was later confirmed that the man was Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un's older half brother.
South Korea's TV Chosun reported that Kim had been poisoned at the airport by two women believed to be North Korean operatives.
Those women are at large, according to the outlet, which cited multiple South Korean government sources.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm the reports, and the country's intelligence agency could not be reached for comment by Reuters.
Kim Jong-nam was known to spend a significant amount of time outside of North Korea, and had spoken publicly against his family's control of his home country.
He said multiple times that he had no interest in leading his country.
"Personally I am against third-generation succession," he told Japan's Asahi TV in 2010.
"I hope my younger brother will do his best for the sake of North Koreans' prosperous lives," he continued.
Despite Kim Jong-nam's statement, his brother Kim Jong-un did succeed his father Kim Jong-il following his death in late 2011.
Kim Jong-nam was believed to be close to his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, who was North Korea's second most powerful man before being executed on Kim Jong-un's orders in 2013.
Comment: Update: Female arrested in Malaysia over 'Kim Jong-nam murder' - police
A woman has been arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport in connection with the death of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to Malaysian police.
The woman, who was in possession of a Vietnamese travel document with the name Doan Thi Huong, was alone at the time of her arrest.
The "suspect was positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the time of arrest," police said in a statement.
Police say they are looking for "a few" other suspects in connection with the death.
Meanwhile, North Korean government officials in Malaysia have objected to an autopsy being performed on Kim, according to Malaysian government sources cited by Reuters.
Pyongyang instead requested that the body be released to North Korean officials right away. However, that request was rejected by Malaysia, several sources said. They added that no decision has been taken on whether the body will ultimately be handed over to North Korea.
Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Kim Jong-nam had died after falling ill at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
"The deceased... felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind," the senior assistant commissioner of the Malaysian Police Criminal Investigation Department, Fadzil Ahmat, said, adding "he felt dizzy, so he asked for help at the... counter of KLIA."
A receptionist at the airport also stated that someone had grabbed Kim's face, according to Fadzil.
However, South Korea's TV Chosun reported that two women believed to be North Korean operatives poisoned Kim with a needle, citing multiple South Korean government sources.
On Wednesday, local media reported that CCTV cameras at the airport had captured a clearer image of a woman allegedly connected with the murder. She appeared to be middle-aged and of Asian descent.
In the image posted online by The Straits Times, she can be seen wearing a top with the word "LOL" in large letters and a short blue skirt. Her right hand is placed over a small handbag.
A previous CCTV image showed a picture of a woman believed to be the same person, but taken at a greater distance and from a different angle.
South Korea also confirmed on Wednesday that the murdered man was indeed Kim Jong-nam, Channel News Asia reported.
"Our government is certain that the murdered man is Kim Jong Nam," said Chung Joon-Hee, a spokesman for Seoul's unification ministry, which handles inter-Korea affairs.
Seoul claims that Pyongyang had been planning to kill the North Korean leader's half-brother for the past five years.
"If the murder of Kim Jong Nam was confirmed to be committed by the North Korean regime, that would clearly depict the brutality and inhumanity of the Kim Jong Un regime," South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country's acting president, told a security council meeting on Wednesday.