Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Beijing International Airport in 2004. In this picture, Jong-nam is seen wearing a gold chain with a pendant of the Buddha (hidden), which he had for a while. The top chain was not in his custody when he died. Pix courtesy of HUFFINGTON POST

KUALA LUMPUR: As Kim Jong-nam lay on the ambulance stretcher, gasping for air and clinging on to the last vestiges of life as he was being rushed to Putrajaya Hospital on Feb 13, the chain and golden pendant he wore around his neck heaved with every laboured breath.

In that gold pendant was a digitally engraved image of him and two close to his heart — his wife and son.

Investigators (sources) say that this nondescript piece of jewellery links Jong-nam directly to his next of
kin. 

The New Straits Times has also learnt that Jong-nam had on him a ring and another chain on his neck.

The gold chain, with a pendant of the Buddha, had been seen on Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in previous images of him.  

Of particular significance is the luxury timepiece worn by Jong-nam, as seen in the picture of him slumped at the klia2 clinic, where he was sent to after his assailants pounced on him and administered the deadly VX nerve agent to his face.

It was a Patek Philippe.

The assassination has ignited a tense diplomatic row between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang.

It is understood that these pieces of jewellery and the timepiece had been sent to the Chemistry Department for testing, along with the beaded bracelet he had on him.

The identification of jewellery on a deceased’s body under the internationally-recognised body identification criteria is listed as among the top secondary identifiers.

Others include tattoos and other distinguishing marks, including moles.

Kuala Lumpur had, on Friday, confirmed Jong-nam’s identity. Following this, the Health Ministry said it hoped that his next of kin would come forward to claim his remains, saying the government would otherwise have to consider other options.

Yesterday, Pyongyang, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, refused to acknowledge the deceased as Jong-nam, insisting that he is “Kim Chol”.

The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency’s Missing Persons Bureau, for example, says jewellery is considered a main secondary identifier because “it can reveal a lot of information about the deceased person”.

This, it said, was particularly so when names or dates are inscribed on them. Jong-nam had in total four pieces of jewellery on him that day.

“Lockets may hold photographs of loved ones, which could be suitable for circulation in their own right,” says the bureau in its procedural advice for  UK authorities involved in the process of establishing the identity of unidentified bodies.

The New Straits Times had, in recent days, frontpaged several other secondary identifiers unique to Jong-nam on his body, which has been at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary since Feb 15.

Investigators (sources) also say that Jong-nam, after arriving in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 6, had flown to idyllic Langkawi for a brief holiday.

It is also learnt that Jong-nam, who was murdered as he was preparing to leave Malaysia for Macau, where he had lived in exile, had on him some 100 pieces of US$100 notes.

The New Straits Times learnt that paramedics attending to Jong-nam in the ambulance as it sped towards the hospital just after 11am detected a very faint heartbeat from him. But he died soon after.

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