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Freed North Korean Murder Suspect Deported From Malaysia

  • VOA News

North Korean national Ri Jong Chol, center, is surrounded by media after his arrival at the airport in Beijing, China, March 4, 2017.

Malaysian authorities have deported a North Korean man who was held as a suspect in connection with last month's death of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Ri Jon Chol arrived in Beijing, China, Saturday after he was released from Malaysian custody due to lack of evidence to charge him.

Ri told reporters outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing that Malaysian authorities used coercion to try to extract a confession from him and said they were trying to damage the honor of North Korea.

“I realized that this is a conspiracy, a plot, to try to damage the status and honor of the Republic,” he said.

Denies being at airport

He said he was not at the airport on the day of the killing and said he did not know about the claim that his car was used in the crime.

“I didn't go [to the airport] and I had no reason to go. I was just doing my work,” Ri said.

Ri, 45, of North Korea, had been in custody in Malaysia for nearly two weeks following the February 13 attack on Kim at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

Ri Tong Il, former U.N. North Korean deputy ambassador, speaks to journalists outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 2, 2017. The envoy said a heart attack likely killed Kim Jong Nam, not VX nerve agent.
Ri Tong Il, former U.N. North Korean deputy ambassador, speaks to journalists outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 2, 2017. The envoy said a heart attack likely killed Kim Jong Nam, not VX nerve agent.

Part of a prank?

The two main suspects in the case, Siti Aisyah, 25, of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong, 28, of Vietnam were charged with murder on Wednesday.

The women were not asked to enter pleas in the case but have said they are innocent, and believed they were taking part in a prank for a television show. They each face the death penalty if convicted, and are due back in court in April.

They are accused of being the two women shown on security camera footage smearing something on Kim Jong Nam's face in the departures area of the airport. He died 20 minutes later from what authorities say was the effects of the powerful VX nerve agent.

North Korea asks for body

North Korea has not confirmed that the dead man is Kim Jong Nam, and is demanding that Malaysia release the body.

Kim Jong Nam was the older estranged brother of Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Nam was once considered the heir apparent to lead North Korea, but he fell out of favor with their father, the late dictator Kim Jong Il, after a failed 2001 attempt to enter Japan on a forged passport to visit Disneyland.

Since then, Kim Jong Nam had lived in virtual exile, primarily in the Chinese territory of Macau.

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