Two More Suspects Held Over Slaying of North Korean Leader’s Gambling Brother

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Feb/16/2017

KUALA LUMPUR // (Associated Press) - Malaysian authorities on Thursday arrested two more suspects in the apparent assassination of North Korean leader’s Kim Jong-un’s half brother.

They were identified as Siti Aisyah, 25, an Indonesian citizen, and a Malaysian man who was believed to be her boyfriend.

Another woman holding Vietnamese travel documents was arrested on Wednesday at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport where Kim Jong-nam, who was 45 or 46, suddenly fell ill on Monday morning.

Malaysian officials said he died on the way to a hospital after telling medical workers at the airport that he had been sprayed with a chemical.

South Korean media reports, citing unidentified sources, said two women believed to be North Korean agents killed him with some kind of poison before fleeing in a taxi.

The two women arrested were identified using surveillance videos from the airport, but it was not immediately clear if they are believed to be the actual assassins.

 er details of the case, including the widespread assumption that Kim Jong-un dispatched a hit squad to kill his estranged half brother. Known for his love of gambling and casinos, Kim Jong-nam had lived abroad for years, aware he was a hunted man.

Malaysian authorities said on Thursday that they had completed an autopsy on Kim Jong-nam, despite objections from North Korea. The findings, which were not released, could confirm whether he was actually poisoned.

Indonesian diplomats met the woman arrested on Thursday and confirmed that she was an Indonesian citizen originally from Serang in Banten, a province that neighbours the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Malaysian deputy home minister Zahid Hamidi said on Thursday that security was a top priority for the government and authorities had acted swiftly and efficiently.

Asked why Malaysia failed to protect Kim Jong-nam, Mr Zahid said: "What do you mean? Do we have to engage a bodyguard and usher him everywhere? No."

Kim Jong-nam was estranged from his younger half brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and had been living abroad for years.

He was the son of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s second leader, and Sung Hye Rim, an actress who analysts say was forced to divorce her first husband to live in secret with the future leader in 1970, a year before their son was born.

After Kim Jong-il’s death in 2011, Kim Jong-nam complained Kim Jong-un, who took over the North Korean leadership, was failing to treat him with respect and send him enough money, according to Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute.

However, Kim Jong-nam refrained from openly criticising the North and kept a low profile after Kim Jong-un executed his uncle and former protector Jang Song-thaek, once considered the country’s second-most powerful person, in 2013.

South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said North Korea had been trying for five years to kill Kim Jong-nam, and that he had sent a letter to Kim Jong-un in April 2012, begging for the lives of himself and his family.

According to agency officials, Kim Jong-nam leaves behind two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau.

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