Jakarta. The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Malaysian authorities to refrain from media speculation and instead focus on investigating the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The ministry's statement came after the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) said the two female suspects, one of which is an Indonesian citizen named Siti Aishah, intentionally poisoned Kim Jong-nam.
"They should focus on the investigation and not announce information that will trigger speculation," Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of citizen protection and legal aid at the ministry, said on Thursday (23/02).
RMP chief Khalid Abu Bakar denied earlier reports on Wednesday that the two women, Siti and a Vietnamese national identified as Doan Thi Huong, thought that they were taking part in a televised prank show.
Khalid said Siti and Huong have lied about the prank show, and that they were fully aware that the liquid they were supposed to rub on Kim Jong-nam's face was extremely poisonous.
He said the two women were told to wash their hands immediately after rubbing the poison on Jong-nam's face.
"Both suspects knew that the liquid contained poison," Khalid said, as quoted by Mirror.co.uk.
"As far as we know, all Malaysian officials and law enforcement officers said that the investigation has yet to be concluded due to insufficient evidence. They have requested a temporary detention period [for Siti]. If they suddenly came to such conclusion. We are questioning the foundation [of their statement]," the Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
He added that the Indonesian government is currently focused on establishing consular access to Siti and that she will also receive legal assistance.
"We honor the legal process in Malaysia and we are waiting for consular access. This is our focus," Iqbal said. "It is still too early to make legal assumptions in this case."
The Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia has appointed law firm Gooi & Azzura to coordinate with local officials.
"We expect them to focus on the investigation, gather evidence and legal facts, and related to Siti Aishah, inform our lawyers firsthand before announcing [any details of the case] to the public," Iqbal added.
Indonesia requested permission on Saturday to provide consular assistance to Siti. Malaysian state-run news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday that the authorities had given assurances that Siti will be afforded full legal rights and that her welfare is guaranteed.
The publication quoted Malaysia's ambassador to Indonesia, Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, as saying that "Malaysia holds firm to the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty."
The RMP arrested four suspects allegedly involved in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. They listed further suspects, including a person based at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and an employee of that country's national flag carrier, Air Koryo.