Kuala Lumpur: Two women and a man have been arrested in the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader's half brother who was reportedly poisoned this week by a pair of female assassins as he waited for a flight in Malaysia, police said on Thursday.
Investigators are trying to piece together the details of a death that set off a torrent of speculation over whether Kim Jong Un dispatched a hit squad to kill his estranged older sibling.
The suspects were picked up separately Wednesday and Thursday. The female suspects were identified using surveillance footage from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where Kim Jong Nam suddenly fell ill Monday morning before dying on the way to the hospital.
One of the women had Vietnamese travel documents and the other held an Indonesian passport. There was no immediate way to determine if the IDs were genuine or if the women, both apparently in their 20s, were believed to be the alleged assassins.
A still photo of the airport surveillance video, confirmed as authentic by police, showed one of the suspects in a white T-shirt with "LOL" across the front.
On Thursday afternoon, police said they had detained a Malaysian man believed to be the boyfriend of the suspect with an Indonesian passport.
An autopsy was finished late Wednesday, but the results have not been released. The findings could reveal whether Kim Jong Nam actually was poisoned, and possibly shed light on the tales of intrigue that have rippled since his death: the female assassins, the broad daylight killing, the estranged dictator-sibling looking to kill him.
North Korea had objected to the autopsy but Malaysia went ahead with it anyway as the North did not submit a formal protest, said Abdul Samah Mat, a senior Malaysian police official.
Deputy Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said security is the top priority for the government. Asked at a news conference why Malaysia failed to protect Kim Jong Nam, Hamidi said: "What do you mean? Do we have to engage a bodyguard and usher him everywhere? No."
Zahid said police acted swiftly and efficiently. They are still trying to verify if the suspects' travel documents are genuine, he added.
Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46, was estranged from his North Korean relatives and had been living abroad for years.
He reportedly fell out of favor with his father when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. That episode and his years abroad were seen as souring his leadership potential.
According to two senior Malaysian government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case involves sensitive diplomacy, Kim Jong Nam told medical workers before he died that he had been attacked with a chemical spray.
Updated Date: Feb 16, 2017 16:52 PM