Jong-nam did not die of heart attack, health minister insists

BY KAMLES KUMAR
North Korea imposed Tuesday a temporary travel ban on all Malaysians there following soured ties over the February 13 murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s older half-brother Kim Jong-nam here. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un did not die of a heart attack, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam insisted today.

The Health Minister refuted an earlier statement made by the North Korean embassy last week here which claimed that a heart attack was the likely cause behind Jong-nam’s death instead of the VX toxin used on him by assassins.

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

“The North Korean delegate said he died due to a heart attack, I don’t know which person they are referring to. We are saying based on the autopsy findings, there was no heart attack,” he told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby today.

Dr Subramaniam added that the more pertinent question at hand was identifying the body and having the next-of-kin claim ownership of it.

“Who does the body belong to? We need the DNA to identify. Cause of death is not an issue. It’s the identification of the person, I think DNA will be the best tool.

“Looking at this case in totality, the police feel the same. To find a  conclusive identification of the body, we need the DNA. (If it is) anything else, people will dispute,” he added.

Pyongyang’s spokesman Ri Tong-il said last week that its North Korean citizen died in Malaysia from heart failure instead of being poisoned by the VX nerve toxin as claimed by local police.

He also insisted that Jong-nam’s death from heart failure was in line with the findings from Malaysia’s Health Ministry’s initial investigations.

“There was an announcement of the public Health Ministry of Malaysia while conducting post mortem examinations. There were belongings with medicine related to disease of diabetes and heart disease and high blood pressure.

“This is a strong indication that the cause of death is heart attack as, for the first time as soon as it occurred [as] concluded by Malaysian public Health Ministry,” Ri had said.