Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, likely died within 20 minutes of being exposed to a nerve agent at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
An autopsy on the body believed to be Kim’s showed his death was consistent with VX nerve agent poisoning, Malaysia’s Health Minister Dr. Subramaniam Sathasivam said Sunday.
His mysterious death occurred about 15 to 20 minutes after he was accosted and rubbed with the substance, Sathasivam said. His final moments would have been “painful,” he said, adding that he fainted in a clinic and died in the ambulance during evacuation.
Malaysian authorities need a next-of-kin DNA sample, dental profiling and body marks so they can officially identify Kim.
“Once we have identified the person, our job is done,” the health minister said.
Prank gone wrong?
One of the two women who Malaysian authorities believe swiped Kim’s face with the agent, Indonesian national Siti Aisyah, said she thought she was taking part in a prank and she believed the substance used was baby oil, said Andreano Erwin, Indonesia’s deputy ambassador to Malaysia.
Indonesian authorities met with Aisyah for the first time Saturday. Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar shot down the prank story, saying the women were “trained to swab the deceased’s face.”
The VX nerve agent is an internationally banned substance that can kill within minutes.
Aisyah vomited in a taxi shortly after the incident, but denied reports she was showing any symptoms of VX contamination, a Malaysian official said.
Aisyah aunt said her niece had been hired “to work as a comedian,” pranking strangers by putting lotion and tomato sauce on them.
“It would be impossible for such a tiny person like her to do such a crime (as murder) if she was not manipulated,” Aisyah’s aunt told CNN in Indonesia’s Banten province.
Malaysian police have said Aisyah and a Vietnamese woman named Doan Thi Huong acted at the instruction of four North Koreans, but North Korea vehemently denies any involvement in Kim’s death.
Vietnamese officials met with Doan on Saturday, according to state-run news agency Viet Nam News. Embassy officials told the agency that Doan was in good health and thought she was participating in a prank show.
Malaysian authorities have asked Interpol to put out an alert for the four North Koreans. Malaysian police have said the four suspects are thought to be back in Pyongyang.