Vietnam seeks to verify information on suspect in killing of N.Korean leader's half brother

By VnExpress   February 21, 2017 | 12:00 am GMT+7
Vietnam seeks to verify information on suspect in killing of N.Korean leader's half brother
A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam talking to security personnel, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on February 13, 2017. FUJITV/via Reuters TV.

Says it has not been granted consular access to the suspect.

Vietnam has been seeking consular access but has yet to be able to verify information related to a woman who carries a Vietnamese passport and was arrested in Malaysia after the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Right after the information related to the arrest of a suspect who carries a Vietnamese passport named Doan Thi Huong surfaced," the Vietnamese foreign ministry said in a statement issued Monday, "the [ministry] has instructed the Vietnam Embassy in Malaysia to urgently work with local organs to verify the information," it said.

"However, according to Malaysian authorities, since this is a serious case within seven days no consular access to the detainees is allowed," the statement said. "Therefore, there hasn’t been any headway made on the verification process so far."

CCTV footage, released by Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV, appeared to show Kim Jong Nam being attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 by a woman believed to have wiped a fast-acting poison on his face, Reuters reported.

But the newswire said it could not independently verify the authenticity of the video, and police officials were not immediately available for comment.

Reuters quoted Malaysian police as saying that they were hunting four North Koreans who fled from the country on the day of the attack, having already detained four suspects.

Earlier on Monday, Malaysia said it had recalled its envoy from Pyongyang and summoned North Korea's ambassador in Kuala Lumpur, who again cast doubt on the impartiality of Malaysia's investigation into the murder and said the victim was not Kim Jong Nam, according to Reuters.

Malaysias National Police Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim (front L) speaks in front of a screen showing detained Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 19, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Malaysia's National Police Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim (front L) speaks in front of a screen showing detained woman who carries a Vietnamese passport named Doan Thi Huong during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 19, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A ‘withdrawn life’

Reuters on Sunday quoted Huong’s brother as saying that she was born in 1988 in Nam Dinh Province, southeast of the capital Hanoi. Those details dovetail with those released by Malaysian police.

"We only hear on the internet and everyone else hears on the internet but judging from the picture it looks like her. I can't be a 100 percent certain because we haven't met her yet," the brother reportedly said.

According to local authorities in her hometown, Huong has a clean criminal record.

Her father Doan Van Thanh, a war veteran, told VnExpress that his daughter has led a “withdrawn life”. She left Nam Dinh for Hanoi a decade ago to get some pharmaceutical training.

Huong came back home very occasionally, every two or three months, Thanh said. She has not let the family know where she worked and lived, he said. The last time she returned home was in late January, during the Lunar New Year holiday.

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