North Koreans linked to Kim Jong-nam's murder arrive in Beijing


Malaysian prosecutors have charged two women - an Indonesian and a Vietnamese - with killing Kim Jong-Nam, but South Korean and United States officials had regarded them as pawns in an operation carried out by North Korean agents.

Malaysian authorities released Kim's body on Thursday in a deal that secured the release of nine Malaysian citizens held in Pyongyang after a drawn-out diplomatic spat.

The exchange ends weeks of tensions between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang that began after the older half-brother of Kim Jong Un was assassinated at a Malaysian airport.

Malaysia expelled North Korea's ambassador for being "diplomatically rude", although Najib later said that ties with Pyongyang would not be severed, in a bid to calm relations.

"The body of the DPRK citizen who died in Malaysia and relevant people from the DPRK have returned to the DPRK today via Beijing", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang told a daily press briefing.

The Malaysians stuck in North Korea - three embassy workers and six family members including four children - were flown home in a government plane and greeted by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the airport.

Three days after the women's detention, four North Koreans were named as ringleaders of the plot, all of whom left Malaysia soon after the murder.

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National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters Friday that "we have obtained whatever we wanted from them" and are "satisfied" with the North Koreans' statements.

Following Mr Kim's killing on 13 February, North Korean officials demanded that the body be handed to them immediately without an autopsy.

The KCNA statement said Malaysia had agreed to transfer the body "to the family of the deceased" in North Korea.

North Korea and Malaysia nearly simultaneously announced an agreement, including lifting reciprocal travel bans.

Two women who have allegedly wiped Jong-nam's face with the poison have been charged with murder.

"It will harm the relationship between the two countries".

A van believed to be carrying the body of Kim Jong-nam leaves the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, in the Malaysian capital, March 30, 2017. "But we had to keep our spirits up", he said.

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Photographs taken by Kyodo matched those released earlier by Malaysian police, Reuters reported.

With all the North Korean suspects in the attack now apparently out of Malaysia it is not clear how the investigation can move forward.

Najib said on Thursday that North Koreans will now be allowed to leave Malaysia.

Eight North Koreans have also been identified as suspects or persons of interest by Malaysian authorities. Without specifying exactly who sent the letter, Khalid said, "Legally speaking, Kim Jong Un is the next of kin".

Malaysia has not directly blamed North Korea for the killing, but there is widespread suspicion that Pyongyang was responsible.

Pinkston said that while North Korea could view both the assassination and removing its stranded nationals from Malaysia's jurisdiction as a successful mission, the three men could still likely expect a rough reception at home.

But he said North Korea should never resort to unlawful action and go against worldwide law and convention again.

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