Malaysia seeks 'important person' in Nam murder

Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, left, and Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat brief the media on Sunday on the killing of the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP photo)

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's police chief said Sunday that authorities are looking for more North Korean suspects including an "important person" suspected of involvement in last month's assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I do not deny there are still some North Koreans (not already named) who were involved in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, and we will use legal channels to get them," Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Malacca state. "We believe there is even an important person (among them)."

Kim Jong Nam was killed on Feb. 13 by two women -- an Indonesian and a Vietnamese -- who smeared the highly toxic nerve agent VX on his face as he was standing at a self check-in kiosk at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Both women, who have claimed they thought they were taking part in a prank, have since been charged with murder. Another seven North Korean men earlier named by the police as key suspects are still at large.

Four flew out of Malaysia hours after the attack. They have since been placed on Interpol's Red Notice list, known to be the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant.

Sources close to the matter on Saturday said that besides the four, another North Korean man, identified as Chang Nam Un, in his mid-30s, also played a key role in the murder plot and fled Malaysia on the same day as them.

One of the sources said, "There could be a few more people assisting (in the murder), which will raise the number of the total of North Koreans involved to around 10."

Malaysia's once-cosy ties with North Korea have frayed in the wake of Kim Jong Nam's assassination.

North Korea has been referring to the deceased as Kim Chol, the name that appeared in the victim's passport, and has rejected the police findings that VX was used to kill him.

They are demanding possession of his body and an independent investigation by an international organization.

The North has also accused Malaysia of colluding with hostile forces like South Korea and the United States to tarnish the country's image. Malaysia in turned described the North Korean envoy as "delusional."

The exchange of words had led both countries to expel each other's ambassadors and impose tit-for-tat exit bans on each other's nationals.

"This is a criminal case. I do not want to get involved in politics. We are investigating a murder that took place in our jurisdiction. So it is our responsibility to conduct investigations transparently and in accordance with Malaysia law. I hope the North Korea side will assist us in our investigation," Khalid said.

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