February 16, 2017
A 25-year-old woman holding an Indonesian passport was apprehended early on Thursday morning on the basis of identification from CCTV footage, the police said in a statement.
Kim Jong Nam, the 46-year-old half-brother to the North Korean leader and one-time heir apparent to the Kim dynasty, was killed in Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday while waiting to board a flight home to Macau.
He was approached from behind by a young woman, clad in white, who covered his face with a wet rag in what police believe to be a poisoning attempt. A postmortem examination has been concluded but it is unclear when or whether the results will be released.
The arrest comes a day after that of a 28-year-old woman in possession of a Vietnamese passport. Police said they were assessing whether the women’s Vietnamese and Indonesian travel documents were genuine. They believed more suspects remained at large.
Mr Kim’s death is widely believed to have been instigated by Pyongyang. The reclusive regime had an outstanding order for him to be killed for the past five years, according to Lee Byung-ho, director of the South Korean National Intelligence Service.
After surviving an assassination attempt in 2012, Mr Kim wrote to Kim Jong Un and begged him to spare his life and those of his family, the spy chief said on Wednesday.
Fears are now growing that Pyongyang may target Mr Kim’s son, who like his late father has repeatedly and publicly criticised North Korea.
Authorities suspect a total of four men and two women were involved in the murder, according to Malaysian media reports.
At one point, Kim Jong Nam was considered the likely heir to the late North Korean “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il. However, his fortunes faded after running afoul of his father for preaching market reforms.
In 2001 he was arrested in Japan for using a fake Dominican Republic passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland — an embarrassing incident that experts say may have marked the end of his political ambitions.
Since at least 2003 he lived in exile, mostly in Macau where he was a feature of the city’s gambling and nightlife districts. He was known to be an affable individual who often spoke of his desire to improve living standards in the impoverished north-east Asian nation.
Sample the FT’s top stories for a week
You select the topic, we deliver the news.