Malaysia: Suspects Were Trained, N. Korean Diplomat Sought

22 February, 2017

Malaysian police say the two women suspected of poisoning the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been trained.

Police also are seeking two more suspects including a North Korean diplomat.

At least one of the women arrested in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam has stated that she was tricked into attacking him at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

The woman told Malaysian police she believed the attack was part of an act for a reality television program.

Malaysian police say women knew what they were doing

"We strongly believe it is a planned thing and that they have been trained to do that," Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters. "This is not just like shooting a movie."

Security camera video from the airport shows one of the women seizing Kim from behind and forcibly holding something over his face. He sought help from an airport service desk before he died.

Khalid said it was clear from the video that the woman is holding her hands away from herself as she walks away from Kim and toward a washroom. He said she knew very well that whatever she had held was poisonous and she needed to wash her hands.

However, experts in poison say it is unclear how the woman could not have been affected if she were using a highly dangerous substance.

CCTV image shows a suspect in white shirt attacked Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.
CCTV image shows a suspect in white shirt attacked Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.

Two other people have already been arrested in connection with the attack. Malaysian officials say they are looking for additional suspects.

Police seek additional suspects

Khalid said police are now seeking North Korean diplomat Hyon Kwang Song who serves as the second secretary at the country's embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Another suspect, Kim Uk Il, is an employee of North Korea's state-owned airline company, Air Koryo.

A North Korean embassy statement rejected Khalid's claims. The statement questioned how the women would still be alive if they had a poisonous substance on their hands. It also called on Malaysia to release the two suspects and a North Korean citizen who are being detained.

Heart attack or wounds ruled out

Malaysian health officials have examined Kim's remains. Officials have said they are waiting on the results of laboratory tests before announcing his cause of death.

The director of general health at Malaysia's health ministry said on Tuesday the exam showed no evidence of a heart attack or anything that suggested wounds to the body.

Earlier this week, North Korea's ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, Kang Chol, called for a joint investigation of the death. He told reporters that North Korea "cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says his country had no reason "to paint the North Koreans in a bad light." He also expressed "absolute confidence" in the objectivity of the investigation.

The two women have been identified as Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian, and a woman with a Vietnamese passport in the name of Doan Thi Huong.

The father of Doan Thi Huong spoke with VOA's Vietnamese service about his daughter's suspected involvement in the death of Kim Jong Nam.

"I couldn't know what she did," he told VOA. "We can't. She didn't even let us know where she goes. She did get home on January 25 and left four days later. She left and we know nothing since then."

He described his daughter as "a good and hard-working girl. She's not a bad girl."

Kim Jong Nam and his younger brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, are sons of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. However, they had different mothers. Many people thought the older brother would lead the country after Kim Jong Il left power.

However, Kim Jong Nam fell from favor with his father in 2001. That year, he attempted to enter Japan with a false passport, reportedly to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Since that time, he has lived mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.

South Korea's spy agency says Kim Jong Un approved a "standing order" for his half-brother's assassination after taking power.

Kim Jong Nam was reportedly considered a threat to his half-brother's rule because of his criticism of the North Korean leadership.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Chris Hannas reported on this story for VOANews. George Grow adapted his report for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

deskn. a stand at which a person works

absoluteadj. complete; without restrictions or exceptions

confidencen. trust; belief that one will act in a right or effective way

fell out of favorexpression to once be considered very good but no longer so

assassination – n. to kill someone, usually for political reasons

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