DNA sample needed to put Jong-nam case to bed, says Subra

KUALA LUMPUR: A proper DNA identification would help put the controversy and allegations surrounding the assassination of Kim Jong-nam to rest, says the Health Minister.

North Korea has been disputing the findings of Malaysian authorities and even refuses to identify the victim as Jong-nam, instead using the name “Kim Chol,” the name he frequently travels under.

Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pic) said that the bigger matter at hand was identifying the body.

“Who does the body belong to? We need DNA samples to identify it,” he told reporters outside the Parliament lobby on Monday.

“The cause of death is not an issue, it’s the identification of the person – because of this case and the peculiarities which surround it, for us to be absolutely certain that this is so-and-so, I think DNA would be the best tool.

“Looking at this case in its totality, the police feel the same. To get a conclusive identification of the body, we need the DNA – anything else, and people would dispute (the findings),” he said.

There have been ongoing rumours that Jong-nam’s son Kim Han-sol would be flying to Malaysia to identify the body, but this has never been confirmed.

North Korea has also been demanding the body be handed over to Pyongyang, but Malaysia has so far remained firm in its stand that only the next-of-kin can claim the body.

Jong-nam was killed after two women splashed a chemical, since identified as VX nerve agent, on his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) departure hall on Feb 13.

The two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, have been charged with the murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

North Korea has been criticising Malaysia’s investigation into the death of Jong-nam. On Feb 28, Pyongyang sent a high-level delegation, led by former North Korean ambassador to the United Nations Ri Tong-il, to the country.

At a press conference on that day, Ri claimed that the postmortem examination conducted by Malaysian health authorities showed that Jong-nam – whom he only identified as “Kim Chol” – died of a heart attack.

Malaysian police quickly denied that claim, and Dr Subramaniam stressed this on Monday.

He said the forensics team that examined the body concluded that a heart attack could not have been the cause of death.

“Our forensics people have already informed us and we have already excluded a heart attack as the cause of death.

“The North Korean delegation said Jong-nam died due to a heart attack – I don’t know to whom they are referring.

“We are saying that based on the autopsy findings, there was no heart attack,” Dr Subramaniam stressed.