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Thursday, 2 March 2017 | MYT 7:17 PM

It was a heart attack, not poison, says N. Korea

KUALA LUMPUR: North Korea's former deputy ambassador to the United Nations insists that its citizen "Kim Chol" died of a heart attack and was not poisoned.

Update: IGP maintains Kim Chol did not die of a heart attack

"We have information that Kim Chol suffered from heart disease and was not fit to travel without his medication," Ri Tong-il (pic) told a press conference at the North Korean embassy here on Thursday.

Ri, who was part of a delegation which arrived on Tuesday, identified the deceased as Kim Chol and not Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Ri also cited the postmortem examination conducted by Malaysian health authorities, claiming that the postmortem showed Jong-nam died of a heart attack.

"Medications for diabetes and high blood pressure were also found among his belongings," Ri said.

However, on Feb 21, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said there was no evidence of a heart attack.

Ri also said the use of a nerve agent (revealed by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to be VX) to kill the victim was a ruse concocted by South Korea to divert the world's attention from its own political crisis.

"How did South Korea know about the use of the chemical weapon from the very beginning when we didn't? This means they knew it was going to happen.

"This is something that the international community needs answered," he said.

Ri went on to further disclaim the use of VX to kill the victim by questioning why the two female suspects – Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah – survived after handling the highly toxic chemical with their bare hands.

He also questioned why no one else at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 which has "tens of thousand of people" were affected, including the doctors and nurses who attended to the victim.

Ri said VX is well-known for its high toxicity.

"It has been categorised as a chemical weapon and any victim is doomed to die," he said.

Ri said if it was true that VX was used, samples should be sent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for testing.

"If proven, then they should identify who made it and brought it to Malaysia to be passed on to the two female suspects," he said.

Ri said the delegation would continue to request to see the victim's body.

"Since we arrived, we have had meetings with (Malaysian) Cabinet members to settle humanitarian issues, particularly the return of the body to North Korea and the release of the North Korean citizen who was arrested," he said.

Requests were also made to meet with the two female suspects and Ri Jong-chol, the North Korean who was arrested.

"We are waiting for these meetings," he said.

On Thursday, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali confirmed that Jong-chol, who was detained on Feb 18, would be released from police custody and deported after his second remand expires on Friday.

Ri said the delegation was fully committed to settling these issues in line with North Korea's friendly relations with Malaysia.

"Our request is simple, which is the return of the deceased's body as soon as possible," he said.

Tags / Keywords: North Korea , Kim Jong nam , Heart attack , Ri Tong il

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