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Subra: Ministry to take next course of action if Kim's body unclaimed

The Health Ministry will decide on the next course of action if the next-of-kin of murdered North Korean Kim Jong-nam do not claim the body after "a certain period of time", said Minister Dr S Subramaniam.

Although there was no deadline to claim the body, the government hoped that Jong-nam's relatives would come forward and provide DNA samples to conclude the forensic procedure, he said.

"So far, no family member has come forward to identify or claim the body. We need a DNA sample of a family member to match the profile of the dead person.

"Malaysian law says the body can only be claimed after the DNA process since the North Korean has two names - Kim Chol and Kim Jong-nam. We want to draw a conclusion, and that's why we need DNA samples to confirm his identity," he said at the weekly press conference in Putrajaya today.

Asked how long Jong-nam's body would be kept, Dr Subramaniam said the high-profile case had many implications and the ministry would find the right decision parallel with the country's laws.

He said unclaimed bodies of Malaysians could be kept for up to three to four months and would be handed over to volunteer bodies for the final rites with police permission after placing an advertisement in the local papers.

"However, this (Jong-nam) case involves a foreign national and it needs the views of the parties concerned.

"In this very unusual case, the government will make a decision after the body is not claimed for a long period, taking into consideration the international system and bilateral ties between the governments," he said.

Asked if he had met with a high-level North Korean official who had come to Malaysia, he said he did not meet the official.

"Whatever their request, our answer remains the same and we will not accede. Malaysia will follow our protocol and we have established the cause of death, and will not change it for any reason.

"We are firm on the decision that we will not release the body until we have identified it and will only hand it over to the rightful relatives of the deceased," he said.

Asked if the Health Ministry would contact the next-of-kin or relatives, he said it should be done by the police and Foreign Ministry.

To a question, Dr Subramaniam said there was no sign of the VX nerve agent poisoning on the two women suspects caught after the murder.

"I also instructed 13 medical personnel - those who came in contact with Jong-nam at KLIA2 (KL International Airport 2), ambulance and Hospital Putrajaya staff - to be monitored for symptoms and to determine whether any of them had suffered contamination," he said.

Jong-nam was at KLIA2 at 8am on Feb 13 to board a flight to Macau an hour later when two women suddenly appeared before him and allegedly wiped his face with their hands which contained what was later identified as the VX nerve agent.

Jong-nam reportedly sought help at a customer service counter at the airport and was rushed to the Putrajaya Hospital but died on the way. He had come to Malaysia on Feb 6.

- Bernama

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