Date
23 May 2017
Ri Jong-chol (center), a North Korean suspect in the Kim Jong-nam murder, leaves a police station in Sepang, Malaysia, before his deportation on Friday. Photo: Kyodo/Reuters
Ri Jong-chol (center), a North Korean suspect in the Kim Jong-nam murder, leaves a police station in Sepang, Malaysia, before his deportation on Friday. Photo: Kyodo/Reuters

Malaysia condemns use of VX at airport, deports North Korean

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.

Meanwhile, authorities on Friday prepared to deport a North Korean national earlier detained in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam, Reuters reports.

The elder Kim was killed on Feb. 13 at the 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,” Reuters quoted the Malaysian foreign ministry as saying in a statement.

The ministry said it was in close contact with the Organisation 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.

North Korea’s envoy to Malaysia has said that police investigations in the case cannot be trusted.

North Korea has not accepted that the dead man was Kim Jong-nam, and said on Thursday that its citizen may have died of a heart attack.

South Korean intelligence and US officials say the case was an assassination organized by North Korean agents.

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.

A 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 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.

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CG

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