Three North Koreans wanted for questioning in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of their country's leader were believed to be returning home with the coffin of the victim on Friday (31/03) after Malaysia agreed a swap deal with the reclusive state. (Reuters Photo/Alexandra Radu)
Malaysia Condemns Use of VX at Airport; Prepares to Deport North Korean
BY :PRAVEEN MENON AND ANGIE TEO
MARCH 03, 2017
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia condemned the use of VX, the super toxic nerve agent that killed the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a Kuala Lumpur airport last month, as authorities on Friday (03/03) prepared to deport a North Korean suspect.
Kim Jong-nam was murdered on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he was assaulted by two women who allegedly smeared his face with VX, a chemical classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.
"The ministry strongly condemns the use of such a chemical weapon by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. Its use at a public place could have endangered the general public," the Malaysian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said it was in close contact with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an inter-governmental organization based in the Netherlands, regarding the incident.
"Malaysia does not produce, stockpile, import, export or use any Schedule 1 toxic chemicals including VX, and has made annual declarations to that effect to the OPCW," the statement said.
Relations between Malaysia and North Korea, who have maintained friendly ties for decades, have soured since the killing of Kim Jong-nam at the airport two weeks ago.
North Korea's envoy to Malaysia has said earlier that police investigations in the case cannot be trusted. North Korea has not accepted that the dead man is Kim Jong-nam, and said on Thursday that its citizen may have died of a heart attack.
South Korean intelligence and United States officials say the murder was an assassination organized by North Korean agents, though the only suspects charged in the case so far are an Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman.
Kim Jong-nam was waiting at the departure hall of the airport when he was assaulted by two women, a Vietnamese and an Indonesian, who wiped his face with a liquid, identified by an autopsy as VX. He died within 20 minutes of the attack.
Both women were charged with murder earlier this week. They have told diplomats from their home countries that they thought they were participating in a prank for reality television.
Another North Korean suspect, who was arrested on Feb. 18 over the killing was released from a detention center on Friday, and driven away in a police convoy, a Reuters witness said.
Ri Jong Chol, who had been detained a few days after the killing was taken to the immigration office wearing a bullet proof vest to prepare his deportation to North Korea.
Malaysia's attorney general told Reuters on Thursday that he would be released due to insufficient evidence.
Police have identified seven other North Koreans wanted in connection with the killing, including a senior embassy official in Kuala Lumpur. Four of them have left the country and are believed to be in Pyongyang.