Malaysia's Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said on Tuesday that the body of Kim Jong Nam, who was murdered last month, is still in Kuala Lumpur. This comes amid the reports that the remains of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon leave the country.
"We have to check with the forensics department if there was any requirement to bring the body out, but as far as we are concerned there is no change in status quo," Subramaniam told Reuters. He said the family of the deceased has not come forward to provide any assistance on how the body is to be treated.
On Monday, the media reported that the body was moved out of the hospital to a funeral parlour, and later was being prepared to go on a flight to Beijing. Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that the body was expected to go from Beijing to North Korea, without disclosing its source for the information.
Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated by two foreign women who smeared VX nerve agent, a chemical listed by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction, on his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 departure hall at about 9 am on 13 February before his flight to Macau.
Two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, have been charged with the murder so far. But they claim they were told that the act was a prank on a reality show.
Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that had unusually strong ties with the nuclear-armed nation for years. But, ever since the killing, diplomatic tensions have been escalating between the two countries as they are both embroiled in the tussle over custody of the victim's body.
South Korea has consistently blamed North Korea for the assassination, citing what they say was a standing order from Kim Jong-Un to kill his half-brother, who lived in exile. However, Pyongyang has never acknowledged Kim's identity and denied the charge and disputes the autopsy. It also claimed that Malaysia is in cahoots with its enemies.