Kim's death: North Korean detainee to be freed

Indo Asian News Service

Kuala Lumpur, March 2 (IANS) A North Korean man who was held in connection with the killing of Kim Jong-un's half-brother at the airport here will be released from police custody on Friday, authorities said.

Malaysia's Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said Ri Jong Chol was "a free man" as there was "insufficient evidence to charge him".

Ri will be deported to North Korea after his release as he does not have vaild travel documents, CNN quoted Ali as saying on Thursday.

Two Asian women -- an Indonesian and a Vietnamese -- have been charged with murder of Kim, who police said was killed by smearing VX, a deadly nerve agent, on his face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.

Ri was the only North Korean to have been detained in the case. Investigators have also named four North Korean suspects, who are believed to have fled to Pyongyang.

South Korea has pinned Kim's assassination on Pyongyang, accusing the country of recruiting the women attackers, who said they believed they were bade only to run a prank on Kim for a TV network.

North Korea strongly denies responsibility, and its state media blamed Seoul and Washington for "resorting to political chicanery to bring down the social system in the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)".

Also on Thursday, Malaysia announced it was ending visa-free travel for North Koreans, citing security reasons.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the rule would be effective from March 6, Malaysia's news agency reported.

Previously, citizens of North Korea and Malaysia were only required to use their passports to enter both the countries.