The Latest: Japanese cult also used VX nerve gas
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Latest on the investigation into the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (all times local):
Malaysia’s national police chief says authorities will decontaminate the airport where Kim Jong Nam was killed with a nerve agent 11 days ago, and that one of the women suspected of attacking him was sickened.
Police initially did not decontaminate the Kuala Lumpur airport where Kim was attacked Feb. 13. Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Friday in a text message to a reporter, “We are doing it now.” Details were not immediately clear.
Khalid told reporters that one of the two women accused of wiping the toxin on Kim’s face was later sickened and suffered from vomiting. He declined to say which of the women — one Indonesian and one Vietnamese — had gotten sick.
A Japanese religious cult that carried out a deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways in 1995 also used the VX nerve agent suspected in the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother in Malaysia.
The Aum Shinrikyo cult, which killed about a dozen commuters and severely injuring dozens more in Tokyo with sarin, another kind of nerve gas, tried VX out on at least three victims, killing one whom cult members believed was a police informant.
In their trial, the cultists said they practiced using syringes to spray the deadly chemical on people’s necks as they pretended to be out jogging. The suspected informant spent 10 days in a coma before dying.
Police in Malaysia say the half brother of North Korea’s leader who was killed in a Kuala Lumpur airport more than a week ago had a nerve agent on his eye and his face.
A statement Friday from the inspector general of police said that a preliminary analysis from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia identified the agent at “VX NERVE AGENT.”
Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, died Feb. 13 shortly after two women put a substance on his face while he was checking in for a flight.
The owner of a Korean restaurant in Malaysia says the North Korean leader’s brother who died at Kuala Lumpur’s airport was a frequent customer, and he sent his dishes to the South Korean Embassy for DNA testing to confirm his identify.
Alex Hwang said he first met Kim Jong Nam in 2012 at his Koryo-Won restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, and they met a total of eight times. He said Kim visited the restaurant with his wife but never gave his name.
Hwang, from South Korea, said he recognized Kim and collected his dishes after a meal and sent them to the South Korean Embassy for fingerprint and DNA tests that confirmed his identity.
Kim, who was often accompanied by two female bodyguards, was a “very humble, very nice guy” who was soft-spoken and well-mannered, Hwang said.
Malaysia’s national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar says help has been sought from Interpol to issue an alert for the four North Korean suspects who left Malaysia on the same day Kim Jong Nam, a half brother of North Korea’s leader, was killed.
It is not known what Interpol can do, as the four are believed to be back in Pyongyang and North Koreas is not a member of Interpol.
Khalid also said there were no plans to send officers to Macau to collect a DNA sample from Kim Jong Nam’s family. Kim had a home in Macau and was about to fly there when he was killed.
North Korea says Malaysia’s investigation into the death of one of its nationals is full of “holes and contradictions” amid speculation that its agents masterminded the assassination of leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother.
Malaysia police have not directly pinpointed North Korea as being behind the death of Kim Jong Nam, but they are searching for several North Korean suspects over his killing at a Malaysian airport this month.
The Korean Jurists Committee said in a statement Thursday that the Malaysian investigation lacks fairness and has been influenced by the South Korean government, which blames Pyongyang for the death.
The North has not acknowledged that the dead man is Kim Jong Nam. Thursday’s statement described the man only as a North Korean citizen bearing a diplomatic passport.