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Chilling CCTV footage shows killing of N. Korean leader’s brother

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 20, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea – Chilling new security footage emerged Monday purportedly showing the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother at a Malaysian airport.

South Korean officials, meanwhile, squarely put the blame for the Feb. 13 attack on Pyongyang, calling it an “act of terrorism.”

The grainy and often blurry video shows a woman in a white shirt and a bobbed hair cut approaching Kim Jong Nam from behind and holding something over his mouth for a few seconds. She and another woman then calmly walk away in different directions.

Kim Jong Nam is seen apparently asking for help from airport workers, gesturing at his eyes with both hands. They accompany him to the airport clinic.

The authenticity of the closed-circuit TV footage, which was posted on YouTube, could not be confirmed. But the sequence of events appeared to be largely in line with reports that Kim Jong Nam was poisoned while waiting for a flight to Macau.

Officials have said he died while being transported to a hospital, although the cause of death has not been confirmed pending autopsy results.

Malaysian police have arrested four people, including a North Korean man and two women from Indonesia and Vietnam. They’re also reportedly looking for four North Korean men who flew out of the country the day Kim was killed.

South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, called the killing of Kim Yong Nam “an unacceptable inhumane criminal act” and urged the world to hold Pyongyang accountable for the “act of terrorism,” according to the Yonhap news agency.

“This clearly demonstrates the reckless and brutal nature of the North Korean regime that uses whatever means possible to stay in power,” he said at a meeting of the National Security Council.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo also pointed the finger at Pyongyang during a press conference in Seoul. When asked for evidence, he cited the fact that most of the suspects were North Korean and Kim Jong Un’s track record of having opponents executed or purged.

As the eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, 46, was long thought to be the heir-apparent to former leader Kim Jong Il until he fell out of favor with his father. Power then passed to Kim Jong Un after the leader died of a heart attack in 2011.

Officials say the younger Kim has conducted several executions and purges to eliminate any threat to his legitimacy, including having his powerful uncle killed in 2013.

Kim Jong Nam has made comments critical of the regime in the past but has largely maintained a low profile while living outside the isolated country.

North Korea’s top envoy in Kuala Lumpur criticized Malaysia’s investigation into the death and demanded a joint probe as the case threatened to spark a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Two autopsies have been carried out despite objections by Pyongyang, which has demanded custody of the body.

“The investigation by the Malaysian police is not for the clarification of the cause of the death and search for the suspect, but it is out of the political aim,” North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry called the allegations “baseless,” saying it had recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang “for consultations” and had summoned Kang to ask for an explanation, AP reported.

Malaysian police have said Kim told customer service staff at the Kuala Lumpur airport that two women had “swabbed or wiped his face with a liquid and that he felt dizzy,” AP reported.

The woman in the video appears to be the Vietnamese suspect who has been shown in separate footage wearing a white T-shirt with the acronym “LOL” on it. The Indonesian has told investigators that she was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank.

gamel.kim@stripes.com

Twitter: @kimgamel

Chilling new security footage emerged Monday purportedly showing the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother at a Malaysian airport.
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