Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday that the body of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the victim of a bizarre murder at Kuala Lumpur airport, has been released to North Korea at the request of his family. Najib added that nine Malaysians who had been barred from leaving North Korea have been allowed to return to Malaysia.
“In addition, following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body,” Najib said in a statement. The statement does not name Kim Jong Nam.
The body of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the victim of a bizarre murder at Kuala Lumpur airport, is expected to leave by plane on Thursday, media reports and an aviation industry source said. Kim’s body was believed to be on Malaysia Airlines flight MH360 to Beijing, en route to North Korea, that was currently preparing for take off, media said.
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The flight was behind its scheduled departure of 6 p.m. (1000 GMT)
“It is planned for…but not sure if (it’s) happening,” said the aviation industry source, when asked if the body would be flown out on Thursday.
The release of the body by Malaysia – which recently imposed a ban on North Korean nationals leaving the Southeast Asian country – was arranged to secure the return of nine Malaysians stranded in Pyongyang after North Korea imposed a travel ban on Malaysians leaving its borders.
Malaysian police say Kim was killed on Feb. 13 by two women who smeared super toxic VX nerve agent on his face at the Kuala Lumpur budget terminal.
North Korea is demanding Kim’s body and three remaining suspects inside its embassy be returned to Pyongyang in exchange for an end to the travel ban on Malaysians, diplomatic sources have said.
Some media reports said the North Korean suspects were also leaving for Beijing on the same flight. Reuters could not independently verify this.