In a new twist to the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, authorities say that they are looking to question a North Korean diplomat in relation with the crime.
Investigators have already put five North Koreans in the frame for last week’s brazen killing of Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. They now want to question three more.
These include the embassy’s second secretary, Hyon Kwang Song, as well as a North Korean airline employee called Kim Uk Il, Khalid Abu Bakar, Malaysian police chief told reporters.
“We have written to the ambassador to allow us to interview both of them. We hope that the Korean embassy will cooperate with us and allow us to interview them quickly. If not, we will compel them to come to us,” he said.
Jong-Nam died last Monday after being attacked as he waited for a plane to Macau.
Leaked CCTV footage from the airport shows the 45-year-old being approached by two women, one of whom grabs him from behind and appears to shove a cloth in his face.
Moments later Jong Nam is seen seeking help from airport staff, who direct him to a clinic, where he apparently slumped in a chair.
Malaysian police say he suffered a seizure and died before he reached hospital, seemingly from the effects of some kind of toxin.
When asked whether the five North Korean suspects had masterminded the attack, Khalid said he believed they were “heavily involved” in the murder.
Four of the men fled the country on the day of the killing and returned to Pyongyang, he said, while one remains in custody in Malaysia.
Kim Jong-Nam’s killing has triggered a full-fledged diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea. Just two days ago, Malaysia recalled its envoy from North Korea and summoned the North Korean envoy to protest against North’s allegations that Malaysia was conspiring with hostile forces to damage its reputation.
North Korea also insisted that Jong-Nam’s body be returned to them without an autopsy, which Malaysia refused.
Malaysia said that the remains must stay in the morgue until a family member identifies them and submits a DNA sample.
Menawhile, Seoul has alleged from the beginning that Pyongyang was behind the murder, citing a “standing order” from Jong-Un to kill his elder sibling, and a failed assassination bid in 2012.
(With inputs from agencies)