Kim's murder: Freed North Korean flies to Beijing

Indo Asian News Service

Kuala Lumpur/Seoul, March 3 (IANS) A North Korean man detained over the killing of Kim Jong-un's half-brother got on an airplane heading to Beijing on Friday, after Malaysia released the suspect citing lack of sufficient evidence.

Ri Jong-chol, 46, was the only North Korean to have been detained in connection to the murder of Kim Jong-nam at a Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13. Investigators have also named four North Korean suspects, who are believed to have fled to Pyongyang.

Ri was released from a police station after he was questioned and taken to an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Yonhap news agency reported.

"He is a free man. His remand has expired, and there is insufficient evidence to charge him," Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said.

The official said Ri did not have proper (travel) documents so he would be deported.

His deportation came a day after two detained Asian women were charged with Kim Jong-nam's murder.

In CCTV footage obtained from the airport, the two women were seen approaching Kim and rubbing a cloth on his face. Kim died within 20 minutes of being exposed to the lethal chemical.

The women -- one from Indonesia and the other from Vietnam -- claimed they believed they were taking part in a prank show for a TV network. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.

The North has denied any involvement, saying that South Korea and Malaysia are colluding to fabricate charges against the country.

In its diplomatic feud with North Korea over the murder that took place on its soil, Malaysia has cancelled its visa-waiver programme with the North. It will take effect starting next week, according to reports.