PUTRAJAYA: Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday officially confirmed that the North Korean man who died at KL International Airport 2 on Monday was Kim Jong-nam, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Ahmad Zahid, who is the Deputy Prime Minister, said Jong-nam was the same person who carried the passport bearing the name Kim Chol.
The identity was verified based on the passport which, he said, was authentic.
He said Jong-nam carried two different identities in what could have been undercover passports, and the documents were authentic.
“His identity was confirmed from the passport that we compared with the document issued by the Embassy of North Korea and by the identity issued by the embassy,” he said at a press conference after chairing a round-table dialogue with industry leaders on foreign workers here.
Asked whether the police had identified the North Korean by his DNA, Ahmad Zahid said the hospital authorities and police would issue the official statement on that as it was an operational matter.
He said the government would facilitate any request by North Korea to claim the body, in accordance with standard operating procedure.
The body would be released to the next-of-kin or the embassy after all the police and medical procedures had been completed, he said.
“To date, (there has been) no official request (from the next-of-kin) but they (the family) probably channelled their request to the North Korean embassy,” he said.
Asked if the body would be released after an autopsy, Ahmad Zahid said: “Yes, we have to follow medical procedure, especially the forensic part of it.”
When asked if Jong-nam’s death had been categorised as sudden death or murder, he said it was an operational matter and the police would give an official statement on the matter.
Replying to another question, Ahmad Zahid said the death had not affected bilateral ties between North Korea and Malaysia.
He said the government would maintain and strengthen diplomatic relations with any country that had their embassies in Malaysia.
“We recognise that diplomatic relations will be strengthened and we would like to facilitate if they have any problem pertaining to their security in our country,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said the incident was an isolated case which could have happened in any country.
He said no Pyongyang official had contacted him directly or sought his help but he was aware that they had been in contact with Wisma Putra.
On speculation that North Korea was behind the death of Jong-nam, Ahmad Zahid said it was merely speculation.
Ahmad Zahid also gave an assurance on the safety at Malaysia’s airports, including KL International Airport 2 (klia2), saying it was at the highest level and that the death was an isolated case.
“We have high-definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the (authorities’) omnipresence and security system,” he said.
In Jong-nam’s case, he said, the Malaysian authorities were monitoring the footage of CCTV cameras and would be getting details from those arrested.
Ahmad Zahid said that at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, it was stressed that the government would protect visitors to the country and would not compromise on any security issue created by Malaysians or foreigners.
He said the Cabinet also agreed that Malaysia would facilitate the investigation into the death of Jong-nam.
Asked when and why Jong-nam entered Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia’s Immigration Act allowed any legal visitor to enter the country.
“When he entered, why was he here and why was he flying to Macau, these are operational questions which the Director-General of the Immigration Department or the police will be able to answer,” he said. – Bernama