Malaysia, North Korea reach agreement in Kim Kuala Lumpur’s killing row

March 31, 2017 5:00 pm
and have
lifted mutual bans on nationals from each country leaving the other as
part of an agreement that ends a bitter row following the assassination
of the North Korean leader’s exiled half-brother in Kuala Lumpur.

The
nine Malaysians who had been barred from leaving North in the
wake of the dispute returned home after Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur
reached an agreement over transferring the body of the North Korean
leader’s half-brother, . Malaysia, too, started allowing
North Korean nationals to leave.
In a statement on Thursday,
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that after “very sensitive”
negotiations, Malaysia agreed to release Kim’s body, which Kuala Lumpur
was refusing to hand over to North Korean officials because they had not
been cooperative in the Malaysian investigation of Kim’s killing.
No next-of-kin had stepped forward to claim the body either.
“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,” Najib said.
North
Korea’s official Korean Central Agency also confirmed the
agreement, saying the two sides had pledged to “guarantee the safety and
security” of each other’s citizens.
Following the development,
Malaysia put Kim’s body on a plane to be delivered to Pyongyang.
Earlier, a van was seen leaving the morgue where his body was being
held.
Later on Friday, China confirmed that the body had been
returned to North Korea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang also
said that “relevant” North Korean citizens had traveled back to their
home country.

A
van believed to be carrying the body of Kim Jong-nam leaves the Kuala
Lumpur Hospital, in the Malaysian capital, March 30, 2017. (Photo by
Reuters)The Malaysians stuck in North Korea —
three embassy workers and six family members including four children —
were flown home in a government plane and greeted by Foreign Minister
Anifah Aman at the airport.
The exchange effectively ended a
seven-week diplomatic row between the two countries that erupted with
Kim’s murder at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport. He was killed with
a banned nerve agent amid crowds of travelers at a public terminal of
the airport on February 13.
Malaysia, outraged by the brazen act
of murder, sought several North Korean nationals, including a diplomat,
for questioning. It also said it would conduct an autopsy on the body to
determine the cause of the death.
North Korean officials quickly
opposed any autopsy, refused to allow access to the North Koreans sought
by Malaysia, and demanded that the body be promptly handed over to
them.
The dispute lingered as the two sides refused to meet each
other’s demands, and a ban was subsequently put in place on nationals
from leaving.
Malaysian
police arrested the two women who carried out the assassination by
rubbing the nerve agent on Kim’s face, which led to his death only after
20 minutes.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi
Huong, 28, claimed they were fooled into believing they were taking part
in a television prank show. They face the death penalty if convicted of
the murder at court.
It was not clear what would happen to the two under the deal between Malaysia and North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and his murdered half-brother, Kim Jong-nam (File photos)North Korea has denied any role in the killing. But South Korean intelligence sources have been putting the blame on Pyongyang.
Kim was planning to travel to the autonomous Chinese region of Macau when he was killed.
His
death is considered as the most high-profile death during the reign of
his younger brother, Kim Jong-un, since the execution of Jang
Song-thaek, the brothers’ once powerful uncle, in December 2013.

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