Woman arrested over assassination

BACK OFF: A Malaysian policeman blocks members of the media as a North Korean embassy official leaves Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s forensic department yesterday Picture: AFP
BACK OFF: A Malaysian policeman blocks members of the media as a North Korean embassy official leaves Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s forensic department yesterday
Picture: AFP

South Korea blames poison-wielding spies for killing of North Korean leader’s brother in Malaysia

Malaysian police probing the killing of the half-brother of North Korea’s leader arrested a woman yesterday as they tried to unravel a Cold War-style assassination South Korea said was carried out by Pyongyang’s agents.

As Seoul pointed the finger at poison-wielding women spies from North Korea, police in Kuala Lumpur said they were holding a woman with a Vietnamese passport.

Her arrest came about 24 hours after news broke of the death of Kim Jong-nam, the elder sibling of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with reports saying women assassins had sprayed toxins in his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

CCTV images that emerged in Malaysian media, purportedly of one of the suspects, showed an Asian woman wearing a white top with the letters “LOL” emblazoned on the front.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Doan Thi Huong, 28, had been arrested at the airport yesterday – two days after the killing.

Meanwhile, pathologists in the Malaysian capital were examining the body for clues as to how he died, in a killing that has echoes of Soviet-era spycraft.

If confirmed, the assassination, which analysts said could have been ordered over reports he was readying to defect, would be the highest-profile death on Kim Jong-Un’s watch since the 2013 execution of his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, in a country with a long record of meting out brutal deaths.

South Korea’s spy chief, Lee ByungHo, said the two women had struck on Monday morning as Kim was readying to board a flight to Macau, where he had spent many years in exile.

Malaysian police said Kim, a portly 45-year-old, had been walking through the departure hall when he was attacked.

“He told the receptionist … someone had grabbed his face from behind and splashed some liquid on him,” Selangor state’s criminal investigation chief, Fadzil Ahmat, said.

“He asked for help and was immediately sent to the airport’s clinic. He was experiencing a headache and was on the verge of passing out.

“At the clinic, the victim experienced a mild seizure. He was put into an ambulance and was being taken to the Putrajaya Hospital when he was pronounced dead,” Ahmat said.

The head of Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s forensics department, Mohamad Shah Mahmood, is taking part in the postmortem, according to an aide.

A black Jaguar sedan bearing the North Korean flag was seen outside the department.

Kim had at one time been set to assume the leadership of his isolated country, but fell out of favour after an embarrassing attempt to get into Japan on a fake passport in 2001.

Kim had since lived in exile, gaining a reputation as something of a playboy, with much of his time spent in the gambling enclave of Macau, where he was believed to have enjoyed some protection from Chinese security forces.

It emerged yesterday that Kim had in 2012 pleaded with his younger brother for his life to be spared after an earlier assassination attempt.

Cheong Seong-chang, of the independent Sejong Institute in Seoul, said the assassination was unthinkable without a direct order or approval from Kim Jong-un himself. – AFP

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