Jong-nam murder: He died of a heart attack, says N. Korea

JUNE MOH


KUALA LUMPUR: North Korea today said there is strong evidence to suggest that Kim Jong-nam died of a heart attack, and was not poisoned.

Former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ri Tong-il, said the individual, whom he referred to as ‘Kim Chol’, had a history of heart disease.

The Health Ministry had, following an autopsy on the Jong-nam, concluded that he died after being attacked with VX nerve agent, which was applied on his face by two female suspects.

He died in less than half an hour.

However, Tong-il, who is part of a high-level North Korean delegation to Malaysia, today rejected the ministry’s findings.

“He had treatment from time to time while being hospitalised. Under normal conditions, he cannot travel without medicine for heart disease, as well as for diabetes and high blood pressure.

“This is a strong indication that the cause of death was a heart attack,” Tong-il told reporters outside the North Korean embassy, here today.

He questioned the credibility of the toxicology report which had identified the use of deadly VX nerve agent as being behind the death.

“Everyone knows the nature of this extremely toxic material, which is categorised as a chemical weapon by the Organisations for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

“People who come into contact by air with this material will die.

“There were ten of thousands of people at the airport but not a single passenger was contaminated or affected.

“There were policemen and doctors who escorted the deceased to the hospital but none of them were affected by this very toxic material,” he said.

He questioned how is was possible that the female suspect, who had applied the material directly to the man’s face, survived while the victim died.

“The sample of this material (VX nerve agent) should be sent for testing by international chemical experts and the OPCW.

“If it is proven to be the deadly chemical, they (Malaysia) should come to identify who made it, who brought it into Malaysia and who passed this material to these two women,” he said.

He said the North Korean delegation had exchanged views and ideas with Malaysia over the settlement of issues and had requested for the return of their citizen’s body to North Korea as soon as possible.

“We have requested to look at the deceased to identify the body and to have a meeting with the arrested North Korean citizen, as well as meet with the two foreign women. We are awaiting approval for these requests,” he said.

He said the North Korean delegation is fully committed towards settling the current issues with Malaysia amicably.