KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, (AFP): An Indonesian woman being held over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam said Saturday she had been paid just RM400 ($90) for taking part in what she thought was a TV prank show, a senior diplomat reportedly told media.
Siti Aisyah, who was arrested soon after the half-brother of the North Korean leader was killed on February 13 with a lethal nerve agent, added she believed she was handling a liquid like “baby oil”, Indonesia’s deputy ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin said according to reports.
Two women are seen shoving something into Kim’s face in leaked CCTV footage from Kuala Lumpur airport. He later suffered a seizure and was dead before he reached hospital.
Malaysia revealed Friday the 45-year-old was assassinated with a lethal nerve agent manufactured for chemical warfare and listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.
Siti, 25, “only said in general that somebody asked her to do this activity”, according to Erwin, who was granted consular access to Siti in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.
The senior diplomat added it was too early to say what charges may be brought against her.
Another female suspect, Doan Thi Huong, 28, is also in custody over the murder, but Erwin said Siti had told Indonesian consular staff she did not know her.
Malaysian police have said one of the women arrested after the attack fell ill in custody, adding she had been vomiting.
However, Erwin said Siti was physically healthy.
The news Friday that lethal VX nerve agent was used in the attack brought condemnation from South Korea, which has pointed the finger at the North over Kim’s death.
Seoul slammed the use of the toxin as a “blatant violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and other international norms”.
The fallout from the attack continued after US media reported unofficial talks in New York between North Korean and former American officials had been cancelled.
Earlier Saturday Malaysian police told the public they would do everything possible to ensure there was no risk from the lethal VX nerve agent used to assassinate Kim Jong-Nam.
People were worried about the use of the highly toxic agent, state police chief Abdul Samah Mat said.
“We are taking action on this to be really sure,” Abdul Samah said.
“We are working closely with our counterparts from our chemistry department, forensics and the team from the nuclear atomic agency in Malaysia.”
He added: “We want to make it clear to the public if there is any effects … which could affect the health of the people.”
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Friday experts would sweep the airport terminal where the attack took place for traces of the toxin as well as other locations the two female suspects visited.
Detectives are also holding a North Korean man but want to speak to seven other North Koreans, four of whom are thought to have fled to Pyongyang.
One man wanted for questioning, who is believed to still be in Malaysia, is senior North Korean embassy official Hyon Kwang Song, who enjoys diplomatic immunity.
However, Abdul Samah insisted under Malaysian law “we have the right to call anybody for statements for our investigations”.
He added if wanted people do not co-operate, police would issue a notice “compelling” them to come forward.
Abdul Samah also told reporters an investigation in connection to the murder was ongoing at an apartment complex in Kuala Lumpur but declined to comment on local media reports chemicals has been seized from the address.
No next-of-kin have yet come forward to formally identify the body of the 45-year-old victim or provide a DNA sample, but Abdul Samah said authorities would give relatives a “reasonable” amount of time to do so.
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