World

Najib: Kim's body to be sent to North Korea, 9 Malaysians freed

Malaysians in Pyongyang allowed to return home, says PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The body of Mr Kim Jong Nam will be sent to North Korea and nine Malaysians in Pyongyang will be allowed to leave, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday.

North Korean citizens in Malaysia will also be allowed to return home, the statement said.

Mr Kim, 45, the half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un was poisoned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13 in a brazen Cold War-style assassination using a lethal nerve agent banned by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

"... Following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body," said Mr Najib in a statement that did not mention Mr Kim by name, referring to him only as "the deceased".

Mr Najib said of the nine Malaysians: "They took off from Pyongyang today at 7.45pm Malaysian time and will land in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow around 5am.

"I had a deep personal concern about this matter, and we worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome. Many challenges were overcome to ensure the return of our fellow Malaysians. The safety and security of our citizens will always be my first priority."

SMEAR

South Korea blamed Pyongyang for Mr Kim's death, but the North rejected those claims and has never confirmed the identity of the victim, who was carrying a passport bearing the name Kim Chol when he was attacked.

Pyongyang had denounced Malaysia's investigation as a smear attempt.

The killing triggered a bitter row between Malaysia and North Korea, which have also expelled each other's ambassadors. - AFP

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