North Korean Diplomat Wanted Over Kim Jong-nam Assassination

Michelle Jung, Feb. 23, 2017, 10:11 a.m.

Malaysian police are looking for a senior North Korean diplomat and a staffer of the renegade country's flag carrier Air Koryo in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

The suspected involvement of Hyon Kwang-song (44), a second secretary at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Kim Uk-il (37) makes it ever more likely that the killing was a hit orchestrated by the North Korean regime.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar Wednesday told reporters the two "have been called in for assistance. We hope the embassy will cooperate with us and allow us to interview them quickly or else we will compel them to come to us."

Abu Bakar expressed confidence that four of the five North Korean suspects who were identified earlier have already fled to Pyongyang, while a fifth suspect, identified as Ri Ji-woo, is still in Malaysia.

Another suspect, Ri Jong-chol(47), was arrested at a home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur last week and is thought to have helped with logistics

The Oriental Daily News reported that police found out from CCTV footage that Hyon and Kim were at the airport at the time of the murder but have not left the embassy since then.

Asked if he thought North Korean operatives were behind the hit, Bakar said, "The investigation is still under way."

Abu Bakar also dismissed the claims of two women who were arrested -- Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Siti Aisyah from Indonesia -- that they thought they were taking part in a reality TV prank. "Yes, the two female suspects knew that the substance they had was toxic. We don't know what kind of chemical was used," he said. "They used their bare hands."

He denied Kim's son Han-sol had arrived in Malaysia to claim the body. "They are just rumors and none of the surviving family members have arrived here nor have they contacted us," he said.

The Malaysian government has pledged to protect Kim's family should they choose to visit to identify his body. Malaysia's Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said, "We will protect him as we don't want another death to happen here."

Meanwhile, Abu Bakar said there has been an attempt to break into the morgue where Kim Jong-nam's body is kept. "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," the Malay Mail quoted him as saying. He added investigators know who had tried to break in but there was "no need for me to tell you."

The North Korean embassy denied the findings and demanded the immediate release of Ri Jong-chol and the two women, saying they are innocent. It said the latest revelations constitute an "extreme insult" to the North's sovereignty and accused Malaysia of "siding with South Korea."

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