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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Only relatives can claim Jong-nam’s body, North Korea told

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia will only release Kim Jong-nam’s body to his next-of-kin, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said today.

Dr Subramaniam was responding to a North Korean delegation that arrived here yesterday to claim the body of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother.

“They can make requests, but it is not necessary for us to accede to them,” he told a press conference at the Health Ministry today.

Dr Subramaniam stressed that the ministry will still insist on obtaining DNA proof from the next-of-kin to prove Jong-nam’s identity before releasing the body to the deceased’s relatives.

“We are not going to release the body until we have identified it. And we will release it to the rightful people,” he said.

He also said that Putrajaya will “do their best” to contact Jong-Nam’s family through the Foreign Ministry to inform them of the situation.

His ministry and the police will continue keeping the body until the identification is done, he added.

“We want to find a conclusion to this case by identifying the body. There is no timeframe currently,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said that while there is a protocol to deal with unclaimed bodies of deceased Malaysians, the approach for this case will be different due to the international publicity surrounding it.

“This is a high profile case with international attention, so we have to make a decision at the government level as to how to deal with it,” he added.

Jong-nam who was waiting for a flight to Macau at Terminal 2 of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, died shortly after his face was wiped with a liquid that has been identified as the deadly VX nerve agent.

Two women, a Vietnamese and an Indonesian, who were caught on security cameras to have approached him at the airport were charged with his murder earlier today.

However, police believe several North Koreans masterminded the murder. One has been taken into custody while four others are being sought for questioning, with the aid of Interpol.

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