The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source told Reuters on Tuesday.
A fourth suspect was arrested late Friday night by Malaysian police in the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
According to a police statement, the North Korean national, identified as Ri Jong Chol, 46, was arrested in Selangor state.
A second autopsy on Kim Jong Nam’s body was performed on Friday night after the first was deemed inconclusive, the Associated Press reported, which has furthered exacerbated a diplomatic row over Kim Jong Nam’s remains.
In a statement to reporters Friday night, Kang Chol, the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, said: “The Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing, we will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem conducted unilaterally excluding our attendance.”
The ambassador added that Malaysian officials may be “trying to conceal something” and “colluding with hostile forces.”
Malaysian Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam rejected North Korea’s claims, according to Malaysian national news agency Bernama, saying the forensic investigation falls under Malaysian jurisdiction.
“North Korea can reject or show disapproval,” he said. “But we are doing things according to our law. Something happened in our country. We don’t do it according to their law.”
Earlier on Friday, an Indonesian woman was arrested for her suspected involvement in the killing, claiming she was tricked into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank, Indonesia’s police chief said.
Tito Karnavian told the Associated Press that Siti Aisyah, 25, received payment to be involved in a prank for Just For Laughs, a popular TV show. He said she and another woman carried out stunts that persuade men to close their eyes and then spray them with water.
“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong Nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian told the AP.
“She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents,” he said.
Malaysian police said Thursday that they arrested a third person in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam. A Malaysian man, the boyfriend of the second suspect arrested in the case, was detained Wednesday evening, police said.
“He is not the main suspect,” police official Abdul Samah told Malaysian news site Malay Mail Online. “We detained him because we needed more information about the second suspect. He is her boyfriend. When we got him, (and) through him, we managed to detain the second suspect,” he said.
Police identified the second suspect as Aishah from Banten province in Indonesia. Indonesia’s foreign ministry confirmed she was an Indonesian citizen.
The first suspect, a 28-year-old woman detained Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where the attack occurred, was carrying a Vietnamese passport with the name Doan Thi Huong, police said. Vietnam has not confirmed if she is a citizen.
Kim Jong Nam, 46, was the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un, 33.
Bernama, a Malaysian news site, reported that the body will be released to family or the North Korean embassy after police and medical procedures are completed. Lee Byung Ho, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, said Kim was killed with a poison in Monday’s attack.
Kim Jong Nam was arrested at Tokyo’s Narita Airport in 2001 after trying to enter Japan on a forged passport from the Dominican Republic. He told police he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
After falling out of favor with his father, Kim Jong Nam lived in exile in Macau, a Chinese island known as a gambling mecca. In emails to the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, he said the rift with his family had grown because he insisted on reforms.
“After I went back to North Korea following my education in Switzerland, I grew further apart from my father because I insisted on reform and market-opening and was eventually viewed with suspicion,” he wrote.
Kim Jong Nam also criticized North Korea’s dynastic succession and that he had no interest in running the country, which remains in the iron grip of his half-brother — the third generation Kim to be the country’s dictator. It was widely speculated that he lived in fear for his life under Kim Jong Un’s harsh regime, and there have been reports of other assassination attempts in the past.
It is the highest-profile North Korean death since Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed in December 2013.
Contributing: Jane Onyanga-Omara reported from London and Thomas Maresca reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.