Kim Jong-nam murder suspect ‘thought she was on TV show’

North Korea leader’s half-brother was allegedly poisoned in Malaysia earlier this week

 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who was killed in a Malaysian airport  earlier this week. Photographs: Wong Maye-E, Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Photos

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who was killed in a Malaysian airport earlier this week. Photographs: Wong Maye-E, Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Photos

 

The Indonesian woman arrested over the killing of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia was duped into thinking she was part of a prank on a TV comedy show, according to Indonesia’s national police chief.

Tito Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh province that Siti Aisyah (25) was paid to be involved in pranks.

He said she and another woman were performing stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes before spraying 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,” Mr Karnavian said.

“She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”

On Friday, Malaysia said that its officials are not yet willing to hand Kim Jong-nam’s body over to the North Koreans.

Although Kim Jong-nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, police in Malaysia say no one has come forward to claim the body or provide DNA samples for the postmortem.

North Korean diplomats in Malaysia have requested custody of Kim Jong-nam’s body, arguing that he had a North Korean passport.

The North Korean officials had objected to a postmortem, but Malaysian authorities went ahead with the procedure because they did not receive a formal complaint.

On Friday, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia said it will “categorically reject” the results of the postmortem.

Local investigators are still trying to piece together details of the case.

South Korea has accused North Korea of dispatching a hit squad to kill Kim Jong-nam at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, saying two female assassins poisoned him and then fled in a taxi.

South Korea has not said how it concluded that North Korea was behind the killing.

Malaysian police are questioning three suspects - Aisyah, another woman with a Vietnamese passport, and a man they said is Aisyah’s boyfriend - and are waiting for test results that could shed light on why Kim Jong-nam suddenly fell ill at the airport on Monday as he waited for a flight home to Macau.

After becoming dizzy, he told medical workers at the airport he had been sprayed with a chemical. Within two hours he was dead.

Estranged

Kim Jong-nam, who was aged 45 or 46, had lived in exile for years and was estranged from his younger half-brother, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

He reportedly fell out of favour in 2001 when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist who wrote a book about Kim Jong-nam, said he had criticised his family’s regime and believed a leader should be chosen “through a democratic process”.

In Indonesia, Aisyah’s family and neighbours in western Jakarta said they were stunned by her arrest, describing her as a polite and quiet young mother.

Her mother Benah said the family comes from a humble village background and has no ability to help her.

“Since we heard that from the television, I could not sleep and eat. Same as her father, he just prays and reads the holy Koran. He even does not want to speak. As villagers, we could only pray.”

AP