North Korean murder suspects sent home with body of victim

Passengers believed to be North Koreans including Kim Uk Il are seen inside an airplane for the flight bound for Beijing at an airport in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia

The tense diplomatic relations between Malaysia and North Korea eased slightly in the last two months when the nine Malaysian nationals, who were earlier prohibited from leaving North Korea following the diplomatic tiff between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang, arrived here safely this morning.

Angered by Malaysia's investigation, North Korea slapped a travel ban on Malaysians earlier this month, trapping three diplomats and six of their family in Pyongyang, while Malaysia responded in kind, stopping more than 300 North Korean nationals from leaving the country.

Malaysia's police chief gave an assurance Friday that a probe into the murder of the half-brother of North Korea's leader had not been compromised by the homeward return of three North Korean suspects under a diplomatic deal worked out by both countries.

Malaysian authorities released Mr Kim's body on Thursday in a deal that secured the release of nine Malaysian citizens who were held in Pyongyang after a drawn-out diplomatic spat following the killing.

The assassins chose an airport covered by CCTV cameras and a designated weapon of mass destruction possessed by only a few states, North Korea among them.

But now it appears to have acceded to North Korea's wishes to get those Malaysians released, our correspondent adds.

South Korea has blamed Pyongyang for the Cold War-style killing, citing what officials say was a standing order from North Korea's leader to eliminate his exiled and estranged half-brother.

The prime minister did not specify who in the family had made the request.

"It's a win for North Korea", Daniel Pinkston, an worldwide relations expert at South Korea's Troy University, told VICE News.


The late Kim Jong-il's eldest son was passed over for the leadership and was living outside North Korea at the time of his death.

In the wake of Mr Kim's killing on February 13, Pyongyang reacted angrily when Malaysia refused to hand over the body immediately, without an autopsy.

He was allegedly killed by two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who are said to have smeared the deadly VX nerve agent on his face.

Thae was serving as North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom when he defected to South Korean.

"North Korea has been performing despicable deeds around the world such as kidnapping and assassinations throughout the decades with impunity", Oh said.

He said that on the day the victim died, the North Korean Embassy identified him as Kim Jong Nam before insisting he was Kim Chol the next day.

Chinese and Malaysian media reported it was put on board a Malaysian Airlines plane bound for Beijing that left Kuala Lumpur at 7.39pm.

"We hope they don't create a case like this again", Najib told reporters in the southern city of Chennai.

"Kim Jong-un is a man who can do anything beyond the normal imagination" and "the final and the real solution to the North Korean nuclear issue is to eliminate Kim Jong-un from the post", he said.

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