Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam's body released to North Korea

Posted March 31, 2017

The killing triggered a bitter row between Malaysia and North Korea, which have expelled each other's ambassadors and barred their citizens from leaving.

(CNN) - Nine Malaysian citizens barred from leaving North Korea after the murder of Kim Jong Nam have finally been allowed to return home, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Thursday in a statement.

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

Najib said the nine Malaysians prevented from leaving North Korea "have now been allowed to return to Malaysia".

- March 29: Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak says his government is engaged in "very sensitive" talks with North Korea over the nine Malaysians stranded in Pyongyang. Malaysia said it held on to the body in order to formally identify the corpse, which it now says it has done, using DNA from Kim's son. According to Malaysian investigators, two young women approached Kim as he waited for a flight and smeared VX nerve agent - a banned chemical weapon - on his face.

North Korea is demanding Kim's body and three remaining suspects inside its embassy be returned to Pyongyang in exchange for an end to the travel ban on Malaysians, diplomatic sources have said.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un previously warned in a January 1 address that his regime had "entered the final stage of preparation for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile". Kim was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb 13.

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Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian national, and Doan Thi Huong, of Vietnam, were caught on closed-circuit security cameras rubbing a substance on Kim's face before running away.

The women told authorities they were duped into believing they were part of a reality TV show.

"Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue", Najib said. "I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice", he said.

North Korean officials have speculated that Kim died of a heart attack, despite Malaysia's evidence that he was killed by a chemical weapon.

Malaysian police have been looking for three suspects including a diplomat believed to be hiding at the North Korean Embassy in Malaysia.

McCain didn't mince his words when referring to Kim during an interview with MSNBC last week, stating that "China is the only one that can control Kim Jong-un, this insane fat kid thats running North Korea". "In case a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, the US will be held wholly accountable for it, no matter who will launch a preemptive attack, as it is causing trouble by bringing lots of nuclear strategic assets and special warfare means", said the statement.

Najib had earlier accused North Korean government agents of being behind the assassination.