The Associated Press KUALA LUMPUR (AP) — Malaysia’s health minister said Monday that the government will give relatives of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother two to three weeks to claim his body before deciding what to do with it.
Malaysian authorities say Kim Jong Nam died after two women smeared his face with the banned VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on Feb. 13, but North Korea — which is widely suspected to be behind the attack — rejects the findings.
North Korea has demanded the body back from day one and objected to Malaysia’s autopsy. Pyongyang also has refused to acknowledge that Kim Jong Nam was the victim and has referred to him as Kim Chol, the name on the passport Kim was carrying when he was attacked in a crowded airport terminal.
On Friday, Malaysian police confirmed that Kim Chol and Kim Jong Nam was the same person, but refused to say how they identified Kim.
“Now with the positive identification of the body, we are told that he had a wife or wives and children,” Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam told reporters on Monday. “So we hope that those people will respond and come forward to claim the body. In the absence of that, then we will address it as a government ... in trying to find how we are going to take the next step.”
“I think after identification, we’ll give ourselves about two to three weeks to solve the problem,” he said.
The body is being kept at a morgue at a Kuala Lumpur hospital.
Since Kim’s death, relations between the two countries have steadily deteriorated, with each expelling the other’s ambassador. Last Tuesday, North Korea blocked all Malaysians from leaving the country until a “fair settlement” of the case was reached. Malaysia then barred North Koreans from exiting its soil.