14-DAY COUNT­DOWN

KIM Jong-nam’s fam­ily mem­bers have 14 days — as stip­u­lated in a gov­ern­ment cir­cu­lar — to claim his body. A source says Kim Jong-un, Jong-nam’s half-brother and the leader of North Korea, is among the right­ful claimants. But if no one comes for­ward, the em

New Straits Times - - Front Page - Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Balqis Lim and Arfa Yunus ALIZA SHAH AND HARIZ MOHD KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

FOR­MAL TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA TO SE­CURE THE RE­LEASE OF 9 MALAYSIANS IN PY­ONGYANG WILL BE­GIN IN A FEW DAYS

‘I BE­LIEVE THE GOV­ERN­MENT WILL DO ITS BEST TO BRING BACK MY DAUGH­TER’

THE clock is tick­ing for Kim Jong-nam’s next of kin to claim his body.

Now that po­lice have con­firmed the North Korean man as­sas­si­nated in klia2 on Feb 13 was the es­tranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jongun, stan­dard gov­ern­ment pro­to­col in han­dling an un­claimed body has kicked in.

The Health Min­istry pro­to­col, laid out in a cir­cu­lar in 2008, states that un­claimed bod­ies of non-Mus­lims be kept for 14 days, af­ter which the body would be handed over to the rel­e­vant re­li­gious au­thor­ity for fi­nal rites.

In the case of Jong-nam, whose iden­tity was con­firmed on Fri­day, the path is clear for his next of kin to claim his body.

On Fri­day, In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, in con­firm­ing Jong-nam’s iden­tity, said “po­lice were done with the body” and would hand over cus­tody of the re­mains to the Health Min­istry.

This, said a source in­volved in the han­dling of Jong-nam’s body, ef­fec­tively made Jong-un one of the right­ful claimants.

“If by any chance (Jong-un) de­cides to do so, the body can legally be handed over to him. In the event im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers come to claim it, the de­ci­sion on which party will get cus­tody will be re­ferred to the at­tor­ney-gen­eral.”

A po­lice source said in the case of a for­eigner, the re­spec­tive em­bassy had to be in­formed.

The em­bassy, said the source, has the right to claim the body of any of its cit­i­zens if the next of kin did not claim it.

“When a body is not claimed af­ter a cer­tain pe­riod of time, po­lice will have to no­tify the em­bassy. Only when the em­bassy de­clines to claim, or does not re­spond within rea­son­able time, would Malaysian au­thor­i­ties de­cide what to do,” the source said.

This was partly con­firmed by For­eign Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ani­fah Aman, who said: “Even­tu­ally, we will have to sur­ren­der the body to some­one, ei­ther the (North Korean) gov­ern­ment or the next of kin. We will work on that when the time comes.”

Mean­while, Ani­fah said Malaysia will be­gin for­mal talks with North Korea in the com­ing days on the re­turn of nine Malaysians barred from leav­ing Py­ongyang, fol­low­ing in­di­ca­tion from the North that it was ready to start ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“The time and date has yet to be con­firmed. They (North Korea) want to start talk­ing. We do not know what their de­mands are... we need to fig­ure out what we can do to get the best re­sult,” he said at the In­sti­tute of Di­plo­macy and For­eign Re­la­tions yesterday af­ter meet­ing fam­ily mem­bers of those stranded in North Korea.

For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cers had held three un­of­fi­cial dis­cus­sions with North Korean of­fi­cials re­cently in prepa­ra­tion of the for­mal talks.

Ani­fah gave his as­sur­ances that the Malaysians in Py­ongyang were in “good health and high spir­its”, adding that they were free to move about and lead nor­mal lives.

“Wisma Pu­tra is in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them. The North Korean gov­ern­ment has given us an as­sur­ance of the safety of all Malaysians in North Korea.”

BERNAMA PIC

Fam­ily mem­bers of em­bassy of­fi­cials who are barred from leav­ing Py­ongyang at a meet­ing with For­eign Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ani­fah Aman yesterday.

PIC BY AIZUDDIN SAAD

Datuk Seri Ani­fah Aman (cen­tre) with fam­ily mem­bers of those stranded in North Korea at the In­sti­tute of Di­plo­macy and For­eign Re­la­tions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

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