KUALA LUMPUR - Two North Korean men who helped four suspects flee Malaysia after Kim Jong Nam was killed, themselves 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 in the murder trial yesterday (Nov 8) that the police were unable to serve issued 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 Mar 30 without his knowledge, Mr Wan Azirul said: “Correct, your honour”.
The four wanted men, also North Koreans, are charged with two detained women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29 with common intent to kill Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, using the chemical weapon VX, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13.
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 on March 30.
The three were Hyon, Kim Uk Il and another North Korean man 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.