Body of Kim Jong-un’s assassinated half-brother returns, along with three men questioned và freed by Malaysian police
The body of the assassinated half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Pyongyang, apparently accompanied by three men initially named by Malaysian police as suspects in his murder.
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Kim Jong-nam was attacked with the lethal nerve agent VX on 13 February in Kuala Lumpur airport, in an audacious cold war-style operation that triggered a diplomatic row between Malaysia & North Korea.
The Malaysian national police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said three North Koreans wanted for questioning had finally been interviewed & allowed khổng lồ leave on the same plane carrying Kim’s body.
A van possibly carrying the toàn thân of Kim Jong-nam leaves a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images“We have obtained whatever we want from them … we are satisfied,” Bakar said. The three men had been in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur for weeks.
China confirmed the body had arrived in Pyongyang – after transiting through Beijing – along with “relevant” North Korean nationals.
Both countries expelled each other’s ambassadors and barred their citizens from leaving in a bitter standoff over the killing.
Late on Thursday, Kuala Lumpur said it had agreed khổng lồ send back the body to the North in exchange for nine of its citizens, who were returned to Malaysia early on Friday.
Malaysia’s police chief said the three North Koreans had been wanted for questioning because they were seen on CCTV near the airport attack.
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“In the beginning we said we would like them to assist in the investigation & we have allowed them to go,” Khalid told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
He said police still wanted to lớn question four other suspects believed lớn be in North Korea.
Malaysia had been waiting for the family khổng lồ claim the body and Khalid hinted that the North’s leader could have written the letter to lớn claim the body. “Legally, Kim Jong-un is next of kin,” he said.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, told a regular press briefing that Beijing “offered necessary assistance lớn the transit of the body”.
The murder in Kuala Lumpur removed a potential claimant to lớn the Kim throne – he was late leader Kim Jong-il’s first-born – who was an embarrassment to lớn Pyongyang.
Doan Thi Huong (left) and Siti Aisyah have been charged with the murder of Kim Jong-nam. Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesSouth Korea has blamed the North for the killing, citing what they say was a standing order from Kim Jong-un to murder his exiled and estranged half-brother. The North denies this và denounced Malaysia’s investigation into the death as an attempt lớn smear the secretive regime.
It had insisted the man, who it has not named, died of a heart attack.
Two women – one Vietnamese and one Indonesian – have been arrested & charged with the murder. Airport CCTV footage shows them approaching the 45-year-old victim và apparently smearing his face with a cloth.
Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, announced the body-swap deal late on Thursday, saying his government had “worked intensively behind the scenes” lớn reach an agreement.
He said the coroner approved the release of Kim’s body toàn thân after completion of the autopsy và receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned khổng lồ North Korea.