KUALA LUMPUR: North Korea continues to reject the claim that its citizen “Kim Chol” died of poisoning and insists it was a heart ailment that killed him.
To add to the intrigue, it accuses South Korea of being behind the poisoning claims.
“We have information that Kim Chol suffered from heart disease and was not fit to travel without his medication,” said Ri Tong-il, North Korea’s former ambassador to the United Nations who led a high-powered delegation to Malaysia.
The delegation also identifies the dead man as Kim Chol and not Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Tong-il cited post-mortem examinations conducted by Malaysian health authorities which revealed that “Kim Chol” died of a heart attack.
“Medication for diabetes and high blood pressure were found among his belongings,” he said.
He said the story of VX nerve agent being used to kill the victim was a ruse concocted by South Korea.
“How did South Korea know about the use of the chemical weapon from the very beginning when we didn’t? This means they knew it was going to happen. This is something that the international community needs to answer,” he said.
Tong-il also questioned why the two women accused of the murder – Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah – were still alive if they had handled the toxic chemical with their bare hands.
“How can a single person at an airport with tens of thousand of people not be affected? Not a single one – including the doctors and nurses who attended to the victim,” he said.
Tong-il said VX is well-known for its high toxicity and great penetration power.
“It has been categorised as a chemical weapon and any victim is doomed to die,” he said.
Tong-il said if VX had indeed been used, samples should be sent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and tested.
“If proven, they then should identify who made it and brought it to Malaysia to be passed to the two female suspects,” he said.
Tong-il said the delegation would continue to ask to see the victim’s body.
“Since we arrived, we’ve had meetings with Cabinet members to settle humanitarian issues particularly the return of the body to North Korea and the release of an arrested North Korean citizen,” he said.
Requests were also made to meet with the two female suspects and its own citizen Ri Jong-chol.
“We are waiting for these meetings to be realised,” he said.
In an immediate response, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police have their own experts, who are qualified to determine the North Korean’s cause of death.
“Our investigations and expert reports confirmed that ‘Kim Chol’ was murdered. North Korea can say what it likes but the facts remain,” he said.