Kim Jong Nam murder trial

Duo who aided suspects left Malaysia in March

Two North Korean men, who helped four suspects flee Malaysia after Kim Jong Nam was killed, left the country in March after a tense diplomatic stand-off between Malaysia and the reclusive nation.

The duo, second secretary to the North Korean ambassador in Kuala Lumpur Hyon Kwang Song and Air Koryo manager Kim Uk Il, were initially identified as suspects by police who recorded their statements.

Investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz told the court yesterdaythat the police were unable to serve arrest warrants on Hyon and Kim Uk Il as they had sought refuge at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

When asked if Hyon and Kim Uk Il had left the country on March 30 without his knowledge, Mr Wan Azirul said: "Correct, your honour".

The four wanted men, also North Koreans, are charged together with two detained women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, with common intent to kill Mr Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, using the chemical weapon VX at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.

The women have said they were duped into thinking they were playing a prank for a reality TV show.

The murder sparked a diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea, in which nine Malaysians at Malaysia's embassy in Pyongyang were prevented from leaving the country until Kuala Lumpur allowed Mr Kim Jong Nam's remains, and three men holed up in the embassy, to return to North Korea.

The three were Hyon, Kim Uk Il and another North Korean Ri Ji U.

The embassy's involvement has again cast the spotlight on whether Mr Kim Jong Un's regime was behind his brother's killing, an allegation denied by North Korea.

Nadirah H. Rodzi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2017, with the headline 'Duo who aided suspects left Malaysia in March'. Print Edition | Subscribe