SEOUL, South Korea – The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother remains a mystery, with initial autopsy results showing no evidence of a heart attack or puncture wounds, Malaysian officials said Tuesday.
In addition, no member of Kim Jong Nam’s family has come forward to verify his identity through DNA or claim his body.
The latest developments add to the mystery surrounding the dramatic attack on Kim Jong Nam, who was ambushed at Kuala Lumpur airport last week as he went to check in for a flight and apparently had poison applied to his face, authorities said. Initial reports suggested he had been injected with a poison needle.
Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia’s Director General of Health, said that pathologists were still waiting for the results of lab tests to confirm the identity of the body and the cause of death.
“We have to confirm with the lab report before we can make any conclusive remark,” he told reporters, declining to give a timeframe for the lab results to be completed.
Noor Hisham also said that a second autopsy had not been conducted on Kim Jong Nam, contrary to widespread reports in the Malaysian media.
Authorities were also still waiting for a family member to come forward to provide DNA identification and claim the body. “At the moment, we do not have anyone claiming to be the next-of-kin; we are still waiting for them,” Noor Hisham said.
Kim Han Sol, the 20-something son of Kim Jong Nam, was thought to have arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Monday night.
Local media reported that he was on a flight from Macau, where the family is based, to the Malaysian capital, and reporters staked out the airport for hours. But there was no sign of him, perhaps because he was whisked out a private exit to avoid the media scrum.
North Korea and Malaysia have become embroiled in an increasingly acrimonious diplomatic row over the case.
Kang Chol, North Korea’s ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, Monday accused Malaysia of colluding with South Korea to try to make it look bad and of committing “human rights abuses” in the way the autopsy was conducted.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak responded that his government’s probe would be “objective” and that Malaysian police and doctors were “very professional.”
North Korea had strongly objected to Malaysia’s decision to conduct a post mortem on Kim Jong Nam, and decried Malaysian authorities, accusing them of “mangling” the body.
North Korea has not confirmed the identity of the deceased as a member of the ruling family, with the ambassador calling him “Kim Chol,” the name listed in one of the four passports Kim Jong Nam was carrying when the attack happened.
But Malaysian authorities have said they are sure it is the North Korean leader’s older half brother.
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