Malaysia Seeks to Question 7 in Killing of Kim Jong-nam


The Royal Malaysian Police deputy inspector-general Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in a news conference on Sunday that the assassination of . Kim Jong-nam last Monday was a “sudden and suspicious death” but that the cause had yet to be determined.

Fazry Ismail/European Pressphoto Agency

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The police in Malaysia are seeking seven more people in the assassination last Monday of the half brother of North Korea’s leader, including four North Koreans who left the country shortly after the killing, a top police official said Sunday.

The announcement came as South Korea publicly accused North Korea of responsibility for killing Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder brother of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s supreme leader.

At least 11 people, six of them North Korean, have been linked to the plot to kill Mr. Kim, a high-level target whose death in a heavily trafficked area at Kuala Lumpur International Airport — at the hands of two women who poisoned him, according to preliminary accounts — has drawn international scrutiny.

Noor Rashid Ibrahim, Malaysia’s deputy inspector-general of police, said at a packed news conference in Kuala Lumpur that it was a “sudden and suspicious death” but that the cause had yet to be determined.

He declined to confirm that the victim was Kim Jong-nam, who was using a passport with the name Kim Chol, though the context was clear.

Local news accounts said that two women had carried out the attack by injecting him with a poison or wiping his face with it. Mr. Noor Rashid declined to say whether a widely circulated photo of a woman wearing a white T-shirt with the letters “LOL” was one of the two women who had been arrested. The photo, taken from airport security videos, was leaked to local media.

Mr. Noor Rashid also would not comment on claims that the women thought they were taking part in a prank when they are said to have poisoned Mr. Kim at the airport.

In addition to the two women — one from Indonesia and one carrying a Vietnamese passport — the police have arrested a Malaysian man, who is said to be assisting the police, and Ri Jong Chol, 46, a North Korean man who had been living and working in Malaysia.

Mr. Noor Rashid identified the four men who fled the country on the day of the attack as North Koreans ranging in age from 33 to 57. They had arrived separately in Malaysia during the two weeks before the killing, he said. None used a diplomatic passport.

He gave their names as Ri Ji Hyon, 33; Hong Song Hac, 34; O Jong Gil, 55; and Ri Jae Nam, 57.

Mr. Noor Rashid declined to say where they were headed when they left Malaysia or to give their current whereabouts. However Channel NewsAsia, citing a senior police official, said the four arrived Friday in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, by way of Jakarta, Indonesia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Vladivostok, Russia.

Mr. Noor Rashid said the police are seeking three other men whose whereabouts are unknown, including a North Korean identified as Ri Ji U, 30, also known as James.

In Seoul, the South Korean government said that there was no doubt Kim Jong-nam was the victim and that it believed North Korea was responsible.

“Given various information we have and the circumstances, our government is certain that the man murdered was Kim Jong-nam,” said Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry, at a news briefing after Mr. Noor Rashid identified the North Korean suspects by name.

“Given that there are five suspects from North Korea, we believe that the North Korean regime masterminded the incident,” he said.

Mr. Jeong declined to answer whether South Korea has obtained additional information that led it to conclude that North Korea was to blame for Mr. Kim’s assassination. He said South Korea was obliged not to address that question until Malaysia first announced more details. Mr. Jeong said North Korea had a history of committing “crimes against humanity and terrorist acts.” He added: “Our country and the international community are watching this reckless and atrocious incident closely and with grave concern.”

Mr. Jeong’s statement marked the first time South Korea has publicly blamed the north for the death. Speaking to lawmakers behind closed doors last week, the country’s intelligence chief, Lee Byung-ho, said that his agency suspected North Korean involvement.

North Korea had pressured Malaysia to hand over Mr. Kim’s body without conducting an autopsy.

Mr. Noor Rashid said the Malaysian police would conduct a thorough investigation and would give the body to Mr. Kim’s next of kin once they have been identified through DNA analysis.

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