Published: Sat, April 01, 2017
World News | By Cecilia Wilkerson

Malaysia urges DPRK to hand over 4 suspects over airport killing


North Korea still refuses to accept Malaysian authorities' confirmation that the deceased is indeed Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Malaysian police investigating what US and South Korean officials say was an assassination carried out by North Korean agents at Kuala Lumpur's airport took statements from the three suspects before they were allowed to leave the country.

Malaysia and North Korea announced Thursday that they agreed to the exchange of the corpse of Kim Jong-nam for nine Malaysian nationals detained in Pyongyang.

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.

Police have denied claims that Malaysian authorities confused North Korea for South Korea in the initial investigation into the murder of Kim Jong Nam.

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King Jong-Nam was the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, but was passed over in favour of his younger sibling, Kim Jong-Un, after embarrassing his father.

North Korea, angry about Malaysia insisting on a post-mortem before handing over the body, refused and matters escalated until both governments slapped a travel ban on each others' citizens.

He said police still wanted to question four other suspects believed to be in North Korea.

South Korean politicians claimed Kim Jong Un had issued a "standing order" for his half-brother's assassination and there was a failed attempt in 2012.

Malaysia, however, has officially confirmed his identity using DNA evidence.

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He said the coroner approved release of Kim's body after completion of the autopsy and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea.

North Korea has maintained that the dead man is not Kim Jong-Nam, saying instead the body is that of Kim Chol, the name on the victim's passport.

Pinkston said that while North Korea could view both the assassination and removing its stranded nationals from Malaysia's jurisdiction as a successful mission, the three men could still likely expect a rough reception at home.

The Prime Minister was on a six-day official visit to India, and would proceed to New Delhi later this evening.

The Plane Finder tracking website showed the Bombardier took off from Pyongyang at the same time the Malaysian Airlines flight MH360 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

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