North Korea to reject results of Malaysian autopsy for Kim Jong-un's half brother
Suspect told police she was paid to take part in what she thought was Just For Laughs-type gag
North Korea said Friday it will reject the results of an autopsy on leader Kim Jong-un's estranged half brother, the victim of an apparent assassination this week at an airport in Malaysia.
Pyongyang's ambassador said Malaysian officials may be "trying to conceal something" and "colluding with hostile forces."
Speaking to reporters gathered outside the morgue in Kuala Lumpur, North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol said Malaysia conducted the autopsy on Kim Jong-nam "unilaterally and excluding our attendance."
- Inside brazen attack on North Korean leader's half-brother
- 2 more arrested in killing of North Korea's Kim Jong-nam
Kim Jong-nam, who was 45 or 46 and had lived in exile for years, suddenly fell ill at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday as he waited for a flight home to Macau. Dizzy and in pain, he told medical workers at the airport he had been sprayed with a chemical. He died en route to hospital.
"We will categorically reject the result of the postmortem," Kang said, adding that the move disregarded "elementary international laws and consular laws."
Kang said the fact that Malaysia has yet to hand over the body "strongly suggests that the Malaysian side is trying to conceal something which needs more time and deceive us, and that they are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us."
South accuses North of sending assassins
South Korea has accused its enemies in North Korea of dispatching a hit squad to kill Kim Jong-nam at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, saying two female assassins poisoned him and then fled in a taxi.
North Korean diplomats in Malaysia objected to an autopsy and had requested custody of Kim Jong-nam's body, arguing that he had a North Korean passport. Malaysian authorities went ahead with the procedure anyway, saying they did not receive a formal complaint.
The autopsy could provide some clarity in a case marked by speculation, tales of intrigue and explosive, unconfirmed reports from duelling nations. Authorities were still awaiting the autopsy results.
Malaysia said Friday it wants DNA samples from Kim Jong-nam's family as part of the postmortem procedure and that officials were not yet willing to hand the body over to the North Koreans. Although Kim Jong-nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, police in Malaysia say none have come forward to claim the body or provide DNA samples.
"If there is no claim by next-of-kin and upon exhausting all avenues [to obtain DNA], we will finally then hand over the body to the [North Korean] embassy," said Abdul Samah Mat, a senior Malaysian police official. He would not say how long that process might take.
Suspect thought she was on prank TV show
On Friday, Indonesia's national police chief said the Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the death was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank. The police chief, Tito Karnavian, said he was citing information received from Malaysian authorities.
Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia's Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in Just For Laughs:Gags-style pranks, a reference to a popular Canadian hidden-camera show.
He said she and another woman performed stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.
"Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer," Karnavian said. "She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents."
Karnavian's comments come after a male relative of Aisyah said in an Indonesian television interview that she had been hired to perform in a short comedy movie and travelled to China as part of this work. Indonesian Immigration has said Aisyah travelled to Malaysia and other countries it did not specify.
Investigators were still trying to piece together details of the case, and South Korea has not said how it concluded that North Korea was behind the killing.
Malaysian police were questioning three suspects they'd arrested on Wednesday and Thursday — Aisyah, another woman who carried a Vietnamese passport, and a man they said is Aisyah's boyfriend.
The women were identified using surveillance videos from the airport, police said. Early Friday, police took the pair back to the crime scene at the budget terminal of the airport "for further investigations," Abdul Samah said. Local media reported that police wanted to re-create the crime scene to establish new leads.
Malaysian police said on Saturday they had arrested a fourth suspect, a North Korean man identified as Ri Jong Chol, born in 1970. He was taken into custody Friday night in Selangor state, the police said in a statement.
Suspect's relatives 'shocked' by arrest
In Indonesia, Aisyah's family and former neighbours said they were stunned by her arrest, describing her as a polite and quiet young mother.
Between 2008 and 2011 she and her then-husband lived in a home with flaking red paint in a narrow alley of Tambora, a densely populated neighbourhood in western Jakarta.
I don't believe that she would commit such a crime or what the media says — that she is an intelligence agent.- Suspect's former father-in-law
Her former father-in-law, Tjia Liang Kiong, who lives in a nearby middle-class neighbourhood and last saw Aisyah on Jan. 28, described her as respectful.
"I was shocked to hear that she was arrested for murdering someone," he said. "I don't believe that she would commit such a crime or what the media says — that she is an intelligence agent."
Aisyah's mother, Benah, said by telephone that the family comes from a humble village background and has no ability to help her.
"Since we heard that from the television, I could not sleep and eat. Same as her father, he just prays and reads the holy Qur'an. He even does not want to speak," said Benah. "As villagers, we could only pray."
According to Kiong, Aisyah only completed junior high school and moved to Malaysia with her husband in 2011 to seek a better life after the garment-making shop they ran from their home went out of business. The couple left their nearly two-year-old son in Jakarta under the care of Kiong and his wife.
She and her husband divorced in 2012.
Malaysia, which is approaching developed-nation income levels, is a magnet for millions of Indonesians, who typically find work there as bar hostesses, maids and construction and plantation workers.