Malaysia: Health Officials Rule Out Heart Attack, Puncture Wounds in Kim Death

Anis Natasha
Kuala Lumpur
170221-MY-health-official-1000.jpg Malaysian Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah (second from left) talks to journalists about an autopsy on Kim Jong-Nam’s body at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Feb. 21, 2017.

The half-brother of Kim Jong-Un did not die of a heart attack and his body showed no puncture wounds, but laboratory test results are needed to establish a cause of death, Malaysian health officials said Tuesday in announcing preliminary autopsy results.

Malaysian officials have identified the man who died in an alleged assassination last week at a Kuala Lumpur area airport as Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged older sibling of the North Korean leader. South Korean news reports suggested then that assassins had used needles to poison him.

“No evidence of a heart attack. There was also nothing obvious to suggest any puncture marks,” Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia’s director-general of health, told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials did not confirm reports that Kim Jong-Nam’s son, Kim Han-Sol, had arrived in the country from Macau to claim his father’s remains. In other developments, Malaysian police Tuesday deployed commandos to guard the morgue at Kuala Lumpur Hospital where Kim’s body is being kept, according to reports.

Since the Feb. 13 death, Malaysia’s government has rejected requests by the North Korean embassy to hand over the dead man’s body to Pyongyang without performing an autopsy. Kuala Lumpur has insisted that next-of-kin first come forward to identify the body and give DNA samples, saying it would release the remains to next-of-kin “in accordance with Malaysian laws and procedures.”

The autopsy on Kim’s body was done on Feb. 16 but, so far, health officials have not been able to determine the cause of death, Noor Hisham said.

Results of a full post-mortem report are due out later this week, after laboratories send back analyses of tests, according to Noor Hisham, who denied reports that a second autopsy had been done because a first one was inconclusive.

“Until we have that report we can’t say what it is,” he said.

Authorities will pursue other ways to positively identify the body if next-of-kin fail to show up within 14 days, Noor Hisham added.

“Other ways of identifying the body include dental records to match the victim and external examination [of distinctive marks] like scars, moles and previous surgeries,” he said.

Mounting dispute

Kim Jong-Nam died while being rushed to a local hospital, after complaining to medical personnel at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) that he felt ill after a woman attacked him with a chemical spray as he prepared to board a flight to Macau.

He was pronounced dead on arrival at Putrajaya Hospital on Feb. 13.

Police have arrested four suspects, including a North Korean national, and said four North Koreans wanted in connection with the case had fled the country on the day Kim died.

Malaysia’s refusal to hand over the body to North Korea has led to a diplomatic row, with Pyongyang’s ambassador publicly questioning the integrity of the Malaysian investigation and accusing Kuala Lumpur of colluding with South Korea in politicizing the case.

Malaysia on Monday recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang, who was due to fly home the next day.

On Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described the comments made by North Korean envoy Kang Chol as “diplomatically rude.”


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