Malaysian police made a third arrest yesterday in their hunt for the people involved in the killing of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The third person, whose nationality was not disclosed, is the friend of an Indonesian woman detained earlier in the day in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam at the airport in the Malaysian capital on Monday, police said.
“He was detained to facilitate investigations as he is the boyfriend of the second suspect,” said Selangor state police chief Abu Samah Mat.
The Indonesian woman was remanded in custody for seven days along with another woman, who held a Vietnamese travel document, caught trying to leave the country through the budget airline terminal of Kuala Lumpur airport on Wednesday, the Bernama state news agency reported.
Kim Jong Nam, 46, was assaulted with what was believed to be a fast-acting poison as he was about to leave on a flight to Macau. He sought help but collapsed and died on his way to hospital.
Malaysian authorities rebuffed North Korean officials’ efforts to stop an autopsy being carried out, according to Malaysian government sources.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he believed the police had received a request from North Korean officials for the body, and it could be eventually released to the North Korean embassy.
“After all the police and medical procedures are completed, we may release the body to the next of kin through the embassy,” he said.
The Indonesian woman was alone when she was apprehended, police said. Her passport bore the name Siti Aishah, and gave her date of birth as February 11, 1992, and place of birth as Serang, Indonesia.
Indonesian diplomats have met with her and confirmed she is an Indonesian citizen, officials said.
Authorities identified her as Siti Aisyah, 25, originally from Serang in Banten, a province that neighbors the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Indonesian Immigration Office spokesman Agung Sampurno said officials from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with the woman in Selangor state, where she is being held, and ensured that she is in a safe condition.
“They were allowed to see her but cannot make any questions,” said Sampurno. “However, the team can confirm that Aisyah is Indonesian.”
Kumparan, an Indonesian news portal, said she lived in the Tambora neighborhood in western Jakarta for about 10 years before moving to Malaysia in 2013 with her husband and children.
It cited interviews with former neighbors and said she had returned to Indonesia in 2014 to arrange a divorce.
Sampurno said immigration data showed she had visited Indonesia earlier this year and returned by ferry to Johor, Malaysia, from the Indonesian island of Batam on February 2.
The first suspect detained had travel documents in the name of Doan Thi Huong, with a birth date of May 1988 and birthplace of Nam Dinh, Vietnam.
Asked at a news conference why Malaysia failed to protect Kim Jong Nam, Zahid said: “What do you mean? Do we have to engage a bodyguard and usher him everywhere? No.”
To date, there has been no mention of the death in North Korean state media.
At midnight on Wednesday, Kim Jong Un visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the birthday of his father, the late leader Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011.
The late leader was also the father of Kim Jong Nam though the two had different mothers.
Kim Jong Nam’s mother was Sung Hye Rim, an actress.
Kim was estranged from his younger half brother, and had been living abroad for years. He reportedly fell out of favor when caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
He refrained from criticizing North Korea and kept a low profile after Kim Jong Un executed his uncle and former protector Jang Song Thaek in 2013.