Malaysia has used a DNA sample from one of Kim Jong-Nam’s children to confirm the identity of the assassinated half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, the deputy prime minister said Wednesday.
Investigators “confirmed the identity of the body as Kim Jong-Nam based on the sample obtained from his child”, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, without elaborating further.
The 45-year-old was poisoned with the deadly nerve agent VX in a brazen Cold War-style assassination on February 13 in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for his death, but the North has rejected those claims and has never confirmed the identity of the victim, who was carrying a passport bearing the name of Kim Chol when he was attacked.
Malaysia officially confirmed his identity on Friday, but refused to say whether authorities had obtained a DNA sample from next-of-kin.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said at the time that concerns “for the security of the witnesses” prevented him from revealing further details.
The killing triggered a bitter row between Malaysia and North Korea, which have expelled each other’s ambassadors and refused to let their citizens leave.
Pyongyang has denounced the Malaysian investigation as an attempt to smear the secretive regime, insisting that he most likely died of a heart attack.
Kim’s wife and children, who were living in exile in the Chinese territory of Macau, staged a vanishing act after the murder. There are fears his 21-year-old son, Kim Han-Sol, could be targeted next.
Three Malaysian embassy staff and six family members are stranded in Pyongyang after North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving the country last week, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Kuala Lumpur.
Two women — one Vietnamese and one Indonesian — have been arrested and charged with the murder. Airport CCTV footage shows them approaching the victim and apparently smearing his face with a piece of cloth.