Kim Jong-nam: North Korean team seeks body as women face charges

Team arrives to retrieve body as Malaysian authorities say they will charge Indonesian and Vietnamese suspects

A high-level North Korean delegation has arrived in Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia announced it will charge an Indonesian and a Vietnamese woman with the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half-brother of North Koreas leader.

The killing, described by the US and South Korea as a political assassination, has led to a diplomatic meltdown between Malaysia and North Korea, which has repeatedly tried to block the investigation and denied that Kim Jong-nam was murdered.

The visiting delegation includes Ri Tong-il, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations. He told reporters on Tuesday that the diplomats were in Malaysia to seek the retrieval of the body and the release of another arrested suspect, a North Korean national.

Ri Tong-il added that the delegation also sought the development of friendly relationships between North Korea and Malaysia.

Malaysian police say the two female suspects rubbed VX, the worlds most deadly nerve agent, on Kim Jong-nams face in an assault recorded by airport security cameras on 13 February.

The pair will be charged on Wednesday under section 302 of the penal code, which carries the death penalty, the attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, said.

Both of the accused have pleaded that they had been duped, believing the assault to be a prank for a reality TV show. The Indonesian suspect, Siti Aisyah, said she was paid $90 (72), an Indonesian official has said.

Apandi said the North Korean in custody, named Ri Jong Chol, would not be charged yet. His remand period ends on Friday.

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Kim Jong-nam. Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Malaysian police are looking for seven other North Koreans, including a senior diplomat, who they say are linked to the death. Four North Korean suspects left on the day of the killing for Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, police said.

South Korean politicians said on Monday that the countrys national intelligence service had told them in a private briefing that four of the North Koreans identified as suspects were from the ministry of state security, the Norths spy service.

North Korea has not acknowledged the dead man is Kim-Jong-nam but itsambassador, Kang Chol, has repeatedly demanded no autopsy take place and accused Malaysia of acting in a deceiving manner.

Malaysias foreign minister, Anifah Aman, has responded by warning Kang that he would be thrown out of the country if he continued to spew lies over the investigation.

In a report from North Koreas state-run KCNA news agency on Friday, the government said Malaysia had broken international law by conducting autopsies on a diplomatic passport holder and withholding the body.

This proves that the Malaysian side is going to politicise the transfer of the body in utter disregard of international law and morality and thus attain a sinister purpose, it said.

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A Hazmat team preparing to enter Kuala Lumpur Internatinal airport on 26 February. Photograph: Fazry Ismail/EPA

Kim, who had criticised his half-brother in the past, had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau.

Police say the Indonesian suspect, Siti Aishah, vomited in the taxi after the attack, possibly due to the effects of VX on her hands. The Vietnamese suspect, Doan Thi Huong, stayed at the cheapest room in a hotel near the airport before the attack and carried a wad of cash.

After the assault, Kim stumbled into a clinic, complaining of pain in his face and dizziness. He died within 15-20 minutes, Malaysias health minister has said.

VX nerve agent is a banned chemical substance classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.

Yun Byung-se, South Koreas foreign minister, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday: North Korea is reported to have not just grams but thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons including VX all over the country The recent assassination is a wake-up call to all of us to North Koreas chemical weapons capability and its intent to actually use them.

Yun said that states could invoke the chemical weapons convention and take collective measures against Pyongyang. It could take the form of suspension of North Koreas rights and privileges as a UN member, he said.

Malaysia has insisted that the killing poses no danger to the public and has declared its international airport a safe zone. Authorities have said there have been no anomalies in medical cases reported at the airport clinic since the incident.

Police are also searching other locations in Kuala Lumpur that suspects may have visited, including raiding an apartment in an upscale suburb earlier this week to check for any traces of unusual chemicals.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/kim-jong-nam-two-women-to-be-charged-with-murder