Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was widely reported to have been assassinated in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, but Malaysian authorities now say they will not turn over his body to Pyongyang without DNA proof of his identity.
CNN reported on Friday that Selangor state Police Chief Abdul Samah Mat said without DNA from a next of kin, Malaysia authorities would decline to hand over Kim Jong Nam's body -- or release autopsy results. As of Friday, three people have been arrested in the case.
The North Korean embassy made the request for the body on Thursday -- and previously tried to thwart an autopsy from being conducted, Reuters reported.
"We are still waiting for the next of kin application, we have not received it yet. We have only received the application from the North Korean embassy yesterday," said the police chief, as quoted by Reuters. "We need to collect DNA samples from the next-of-kin in order to get conclusive evidence on the victim's identity."
Kim Jong Nam
Kim Jong Nam
Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 11, 2007.
This combo shows a file photo (L) taken on May 4, 2001 of a man believed to be Kim Jong-Nam, son of the late-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, getting off a bus to board an All Nippon Airways plane at Narita airport near Tokyo and a file photo (R) of his half-brother, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, on a balcony of the Grand People's Study House following a mass parade in Pyongyang on May 10, 2016. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has been murdered in Malaysia, pleaded for his life after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by South Korea's spy chief said on February 15, 2017. Jong-Nam, the eldest son of the late former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favor following an embarrassing botched bid in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland.
(TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
A man (R) believed to be North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam, is escorted by police as he boards a plane upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport in Narita, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo May 4, 2001.
A man watches a television showing news reports of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in Seoul on February 14, 2017. Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been assassinated in Malaysia, South Korean media reported on February 14.
(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
In a picture taken on June 4, 2010 Kim Jong-Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, waves after an interview with South Korean media representatives in Macau. Kim Jong-Nam was in the limelight with Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper carrying a snatched interview with him at a hotel in Macau. Jong-Nam declined knowledge of the warship incident, it reported, and said his father is 'doing well'. North Korean Leader Leader Kim Jong-Il on June 7 attended a rare second annual session of parliament at which Kim's brother-in-law was promoted and the country's prime minister was sacked, state media reported.
(JoongAng Sunday/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 11, 2007 shows a man believed to be then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's eldest son, Kim Jong-Nam (C), walking amongst journalists upon his arrival at Beijing's international airport. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has been murdered in Malaysia, pleaded for his life after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by South Korea's spy chief said on February 15, 2017.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA: A man believed to be the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Nam, answers Japanese reporters' questions at the Beijing International airport, 25 September 2004.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man believed to be North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong-nam emerges from a bus as he is escorted by Japanese authorities upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Believed to be Kim Jong-nam, eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the man entered Japan with a forged passport on Tuesday, but was deported to China on Friday.
(Eriko Sugita / Reuters)
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Kim Jong Nam was a "hunted heir," a former would-be leader of the Hermit Kingdom, according to the New York Times. But he fell outside of favor with the North Korean power structure, and there has been a "standing order" for his death since at least 2011, when his younger half brother Kim Jong Un came to power.
"China's inner circle of government is highly nervous about this. ... Kim Jong Nam's assassination makes China more aware of how unpredictable and cruel the current North Korean regime is, as well as Kim Jong Un's willingness to abandon China and sell it for his own benefit at any second," Wang Weimin, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai told The Washington Post.
China's foreign ministry has remained officially mum, commenting that is has "noticed relevant media reports and is closely following developments." The Post and the New York Review of Books have noted that the deceased received protection from Chinese bodyguards.