Malaysia arrests North Korean man over Kim Jong-nam's death

North Korea says it will categorically reject Malaysia's autopsy report on Kim’s death.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A police officer stands at the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, where Kim Jong-nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia, February 18, 2017.

Malaysian police said on Saturday they had arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The latest arrest connected with the murder was made on Friday night, and the suspect was identified as Ri Jong Chol, born on May 6, 1970.

"He is suspected to be involved in the death of a North Korean male," read the police statement.

TRT World's Ben Tornquist reports. 

Kim died this week after being assaulted at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with what was thought to be a fast-acting poison. South Korean and US officials have said he was assassinated by North Korean agents.

Two female suspects, one an Indonesian and the other carrying Vietnamese travel documents, have already been arrested. While a

Malaysian man has been detained. At least three more suspects are at large, government sources have said.

Kim, the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea.

South Korea's intelligence agency told lawmakers in Seoul that Kim had been living with his second wife in the Chinese territory of Macau, under China's protection.

Diplomatic row escalates

North Korea said in the early hours of Saturday that it would categorically reject Malaysia's autopsy report on Kim’s death, and accused Malaysia of "colluding with outside forces," in a veiled reference to rival nation South Korea.

Malaysia hit back by saying the country's rules must be followed. The foreign ministry has yet to make any comment.

The case threatens to weaken North Korea's ties with Malaysia, one of the few countries that has maintained good diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

North Korea demanded on Friday night that Kim's body be released immediately. It had earlier tried to persuade Malaysian authorities not to carry out an autopsy.

"The Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing," the North Korean ambassador Kang Chol told reporters outside the hospital where the body of Kim Jong-nam is being kept.

"We will categorically reject the result of the post mortem."