Frustrated Malaysian police release North Korean suspect

Ri Jong-Chol is among eight North Koreans suspected of involvement in the dramatic killing of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of the reclusive nation's leader, who was poisoned with a banned nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Frustrated Malaysian police release North Korean suspect

World Bulletin / News Desk

Malaysia issued an arrest warrant for a North Korean airline employee Friday over the assassination of the half-brother of Pyongyang's leader, after frustrated police had to release their only other suspect from the isolated nation.

Malaysia's attorney general has announced there was insufficient evidence to charge 47-year-old Ri. 

"The deportation will take place tonight. He will be escorted by two North Korean officials to Beijing and from Beijing to Pyongyang," deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters.

"The police probe showed he was not working as stated in his documents but was involved in illicit activities detrimental to our security."

As he was led out of a police station outside the capital under tight security and handed over to immigration authorities, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said he regretted the release.

"We believe that Ri Jong Chol played a part in Kim Chol's murder but unfortunately we lack evidence to charge him," he told AFP, using the name given in the passport carried by Kim Jong-Nam.

"We are frustrated because of a lack of evidence," he said via text message from Saudi Arabia where he is on a religious pilgrimage.

However, he denied political or diplomatic pressure had been a factor in the release, saying it was purely an investigative issue.  

A senior police official who asked not to be named told AFP that Ri had been handed over to immigration authorities in the administrative capital of Putrajaya. 

"I do not know when he will be deported as they will need to sort out the travel documents," he said. 

Ri's release came two days after two women -- one Vietnamese and one Indonesian -- were charged with murdering Kim.

Seven other North Koreans are wanted in connection with the killing.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Mart 2017, 13:07