Interpol 'issues red notice' for North
Koreans in murder mystery
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[March 16, 2017]
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Interpol
has issued a red notice, the closest to an international arrest warrant,
for four North Koreans wanted in connection with the murder of Kim Jong
Nam, Malaysia's police chief said on Thursday.
The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was
murdered on Feb. 13, when Malaysian police say two women - an Indonesian
and a Vietnamese - smeared super toxic VX nerve agent on his face at
Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The two women were charged with murder earlier this month, but police
are looking for seven North Korean suspects in connection with the
killing, including four who are believed to have made their way back to
Police requested Interpol's help to apprehend the suspects last month.
"We have obtained a red notice for the four North Korean nationals who
were at the airport on the day of the incident and who have since
left... we are hoping to get them through Interpol," police chief Khalid
Abu Bakar told reporters.
An Interpol red notice is a request to find and provisionally arrest
someone pending extradition.
The murder has resulted in a diplomatic meltdown between two countries
with once strong ties.
North Korea has questioned the Malaysian investigation into the murder
and refused to acknowledge that the man murdered is Kim Jong Nam.
Speaking at the North Korean embassy in Beijing at an unusual and
hastily arranged news conference, diplomat Pak Myong Ho blamed the
United States and South Korea.
"The recent incident that occurred in Malaysia was clearly a political
scheme by the U.S. and South Korea aimed at hurting the DPRK's
reputation and overthrowing the DPRK regime," Pak said, using the
North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The only parties that will benefit from this incident are the enemy
countries," Pak told a hand-picked audience of reporters in a small,
sparsely decorated room inside the embassy.
At the time of the killing, Kim was carrying a diplomatic passport
bearing another name, but Malaysian authorities said on Wednesday Kim
Jong Nam's identity had been confirmed using DNA samples taken from one
of his children.
Malaysia has also refused demands by the North Korean government for Kim
Jong Nam's body to be released, saying that the remains can only be
handed over to the next-of-kin under local laws. No family member has
come forward to claim the body.
State news agency Bernama, quoting Malaysian deputy police chief Noor
Rashid Ibrahim, said on Thursday that the family had given consent for
Malaysia to manage Kim Jong Nam's remains. Noor Rashid did not say when
or where the consent was given.
[to top of second column]
The cover of a Chinese magazine features a portrait of Kim Jong Nam,
the late half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a news
agent in Beijing, China February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Kim Jong Nam had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau under
Beijing's protection after the family went into exile several years ago.
He had been known to speak out publicly against his family's dynastic
control of North Korea.
A man claiming to be the son of Kim Jong Nam appeared in video footage
last week, saying he was lying low with his mother and sister.
An official at South Korea's National Intelligence Service confirmed the
man in the video was Kim Han Sol, the 21-year-old son of Kim Jong Nam.
Malaysia is one of the few countries outside China that has for decades
maintained ties with North Korea.
But as relations soured, Malaysia recalled its envoy from Pyongyang and
expelled the North Korean ambassador.
North Korea then barred nine Malaysians - three diplomats and their six
family members - from leaving the country, prompting Malaysian Prime
Minister Najib Razak to describe the action as "hostage" taking. The
Southeast Asian country followed with a tit-for-tat action stopping
North Koreans from leaving.
Najib told reporters Malaysia will begin formal negotiations with North
Korea "when the time is right", clarifying previous reports saying that
talks between the two countries had begun on Monday.
(Reporting by Nguyen Ha Minh and Joseph Sipalan; Additional reporting by
Christian Shepherd in Beijing, and Christine Kim in Seoul; Writing by
Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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