KUALA LUMPUR - A senior Malaysian police official said Thursday that the family of Kim Jong Nam, who was killed Feb. 13, has given consent to Malaysia to decide what to do with his body.
Officials say police confirmed Kim’s identity using the DNA of one of his children. Kim was holding a diplomatic passport by the name of Kim Chol when he was attacked at Kuala Lumpur’s airport by two women who smeared the banned VX nerve agent on his face. He died within 20 minutes.
Deputy national police Chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said Kim’s family will let the government decide what to do with his body.
He said any decision will be subject to negotiations between the two countries amid a diplomatic standoff over the killing. Kim was the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and relations between Malaysia and North Korea have deteriorated sharply since Kim’s death, with each expelling the other’s ambassador.
North Korea has blocked all Malaysians from leaving the country until a “fair settlement” of the case is reached. Malaysia then barred North Koreans from exiting its soil. The two countries have also scrapped visa-free travel for each other’s citizens.
Noor Rashid declined to comment whether the two women had been given different components that would form a binary version of VX, but described it as a “professional job.”
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar separately told reporters that four North Korean suspects who are believed to have fled Malaysia on the same day of killing has been put on Interpol’s red notice list, which is a request to locate and hold a person pending extradition.
Four of the seven North Korean suspects being sought by Malaysia are believed to have left the country on the day Kim was killed. Police say the other three, including a North Korean diplomat and an employee of Air Koryo, North Korea’s state airline, are believed to be in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
There are nine Malaysians in North Korea — three embassy staff members and their family members. About 315 North Koreans are in Malaysia.
Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of being behind the attack, many speculate that it must have orchestrated it.
Experts say the VX nerve agent used to kill Kim was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory, and North Korea is widely believed to possess large quantities of chemical weapons.