How North Korea Claims Kim Died
Envoy says it was probably a heart attack
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2017 5:58 AM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2017 6:35 AM CST
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Kim Jong Nam in Macau in 2010.   (Shin In-seop/JoongAng Ilbo via AP, File)

(Newser) – A North Korean envoy says Kim Jong Nam likely died of a heart attack, not in an assassination that used the nerve agent VX. Ri Tong Il, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the UN, says Kim was taking medication for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, reports the AP. Malaysia, however, says an autopsy clearly shows VX was used to kill Kim, and the former deputy head of the North Korean Embassy in London, who defected last year, says only Kim Jong Un could have approved such a move. "North Korea is a society ruled in terror. For a big decision like killing Kim Jong Nam, no one could make a decision like that except Kim Jong Un," Thae Yong Ho tells Hong Kong's Phoenix TV.

Two women have now been charged in the assassination, but a North Korean man detained four days after Kim's death will be released Friday due to "insufficient evidence to charge him," Malaysia's attorney general said Thursday, per the BBC. Ri Jong Chol—described as a "chemistry expert" who allegedly drove another suspect, per USA Today—is to be deported to North Korea, where officials believe four others involved in the killing are hiding, reports CNN. Police want to speak to three other North Koreans believed to be in Malaysia. Also Thursday, Malaysia announced North Koreans will need a visa to travel there beginning Monday, citing national security reasons. Previously, North Koreans could visit Malaysia for 30 days without a visa.

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