Malaysian authorities have indicated that they intend to question a North Korean embassy official and a state airline employee in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother to North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.
Local law enforcement reported an attempted break in at the hospital morgue housing Kim Jong Nam’s body earlier this week, potentially intended to destroy evidence linking the assassination to North Korea, as many suspect the order to kill Nam came directly from his half-brother, Kim Jong Un.
“We knew there were attempts by someone to break into the hospital mortuary. We had to take precautions. We will not allow anyone to tamper with the mortuary.” A Malaysian official told reporters Tuesday.
Soon after the attempted break in, Malaysian authorities announced that they intended to interview Hyon Kwang Song, who worked at the North Korean embassy in Malaysia, as well as Kim Uk Il, an employee of the North Korean state airline, Air Koryo.
In a press conference, Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar claimed that both of them were still in Malaysia. He went on to indicate that Malaysian authorities knew who was responsible for the attempted break in, but declined to say whether or not they had ties to North Korea.
“We know who they are. No need to tell you,” Bakar told reporters.
Bakar went on to say that they are currently seeking four additional North Korean suspects that they strongly believe were involved in the assassination plot. North Korea has reportedly not complied with Malaysian authorities throughout the investigation, failing to hand over suspects in Pyongyang or even to offer any assistance in solving the crime.
Malaysian authorities have not issued arrest warrants for the North Koreans they seek, but have suggested that if Hyon Kwang Song and Kim Uk Il do not come forward on their own accord, warrants will be issued.
“We are being very fair in the investigation and they should assist us,” Bakar said.
Police already have three suspects in custody; 46-year-old Ri Jong Chol of North Korea, 25-year-old Siti Aishah of Indonesia, and 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam. Aishah told authorities that she believed she was participating in a reality TV show. She can be seen in the video posted to SOFREP days ago wearing a shirt that reads “LOL” and swabbing Kim Jong Nam’s face with the chemical that ultimately killed him.
Malaysian authorities have dismissed her claim, indicating that her behavior demonstrated training for the operation and that those involved even practiced similar attacks at other locations in the days leading up to the assassination.
“These two ladies were trained to swab the deceased’s face,” Bakar said after the suspects claimed to be pawns in an operation they were unaware of. “They knew it was toxic,” he added. “Of course they knew.” After wiping the chemical on Kim Jong Nam’s face, both women went to the bathroom to wash their hands before escaping the scene by taxi.
North Korean officials have repeatedly dismissed claims that the assassination was in any way tied to their country or leader, Kim Jong Un, eve going so far as to accuse the Malaysian police of misleading the public regarding the nature of the incident. They also, however, demanded that no autopsy take place – a demand that seems unusual for such a death, unless they have something to hide.
North Korea has demanded the release of those arrested, calling them innocent and accusing Malaysia of conspiring with South Korea to discredit their nation on the global stage.
Image courtesy of the Associated Press