KUALA LUMPUR: Four North Korean fugitives, wanted in the probe into Kim Jong Nam’s murder in Malaysia, are believed to have planned and executed his assassination before fleeing back to Pyongyang, senior police sources told Channel NewsAsia.
“The four men planned and executed the assassination. They also recruited the two women,” a senior police source said.
Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un, died shortly after his face was swiped with liquid by a Vietnamese woman as he was distracted by her partner-in-crime, an Indonesian woman, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) last Monday (Feb 13).
The liquid is believed to be poison.
The four wanted men are: Ri Ji-hyon aged, 33; Hong Song-hac aged 34; O Jong-gil aged 55 and Ri Jae-nam aged 57. They arrived in Malaysia between Jan 31 and Feb 7, Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim told a press conference on Sunday.
The revelation comes as North Korea's envoy to Malaysia on Monday said the police investigation into last week's murder at Kuala Lumpur International airport could not be trusted, and insisted the victim was not Kim Jong Nam.
The four men allegedly escaped by boarding flights to Jakarta and then to Dubai and Vladivostok before arriving back in Pyongyang on Feb 17, according to the source.
Agung Sampurno, spokesman for Indonesian office of the Directorate-General of Immigration, confirmed the four men transited in Jakarta.
In a WhatsApp message to reporters, he said the three fugitives are Ri Jae Nam, Ri Ji Hyon and Hong Song Hac. All three departed for Dubai on Emirates flight EK0359 at 10.20pm on Feb 13.
The details of the fourth fugitive are unclear.
A North Korean suspect, Ri Jong Chol, 46, who was arrested last Friday, is believed to be the driver of the four fugitives and did not play a major role in the assassination, said the source.
He did not give details as to whether Ri Chong Jol drove the suspects to the crime scene.
“Like other North Koreans in Malaysia, he is here to work (where) part of his earnings goes to the North Korean government via the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” the source added.
Deputy Inspector General Noor Rashid said Ri Chong Jol entered Malaysia in August 2016 and worked in the information technology department of Tombo Enterprises Bhd based in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Tombo business is involved in the production of anti-cancer supplements, according to its website.
The Star newspaper reported Ri graduated from a university in North Korea in 2000 in the field of science and medicine.