KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will release and deport North Korean suspect Ri Jong Chol on Friday (March 3) due to lack of evidence to indict him over the Kim Jong Nam murder.
"Releasing him due to insufficient evidence to charge," Attorney-General Apandi Ali told The Straits Times in a WhatsApp message on Thursday (March 2).
The release indicates that investigators do not have evidence pointing to Mr Ri's involvement in the alleged assassination, despite having questioned Mr Ri and his family and raided their home.
Still, Tan Sri Apandi said the North Korean, who has been remanded for two weeks, will be deported as he has no valid travel documents.
Mr Ri, who has been based in Kuala Lumpur since 2013, had been in Malaysia on a work permit sponsored by health products trader Tombo Enterprises.
However, the firm's owner admitted that he sponsored Mr Ri's papers to facilitate business deals, and that the 47-year-old was not an employee.
Malaysia on Wednesday charged two women - one Indonesian and the other Vietnamese - for the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam, even as a high-level delegation arrived from Pyongyang to seek the release of Mr Ri as well as the body of the deceased, whom they insist was not the estranged sibling of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
Mr Kim was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport with the VX toxic nerve agent on Feb 13.
South Korea and US say he was assassinated by agents of the North Korean regime.