Kim Jong-Nam killing suspect claims his family was threatened

Wil Longbottom, News Reporter

A North Korean man deported from Malaysia has accused police of threatening to kill his family unless he confessed to the killing of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother.

Ri Jong-Chol, who was among eight North Koreans suspected of involvement in the killing of Kim Jong-Nam, told reporters after he was released by Malaysian authorities that the investigation was a "conspiracy" to harm Pyongyang.

Authorities have said there is not enough evidence to charge Mr Ri over Mr Kim's death at Kuala Lumpur airport on 13 February.

Mr Ri, a chemist, was detained four days after the attack, but police did not say what his alleged role in the attack was.

Two women - one Indonesian and one Vietnamese - have been charged with murder after police said they smeared Mr Kim's face with VX - a banned nerve agent considered a weapon of mass destruction.

:: VX nerve agent: What is it and what does it do?

Mr Ri said he was not at the airport on the day of the murder, but said police accused him of being a mastermind behind the plot and presented him with "fake evidence".

He claimed officers showed him a picture of his wife and two children, who were staying with him in Kuala Lumpur, and threatened to kill them.

"These men kept telling me to admit to the crime, and if not, my whole family would be killed, and you too won't be safe," he said.

"If you accept everything, you can live a good life in Malaysia. This is when I realised that it was a trap... they were plotting to tarnish my country's reputation."

Malaysia is looking for seven other North Korean suspects, four of whom are thought to have left the country the day after the killing.

Three others are believed to still be in Malaysia.

On Friday, an arrest warrant for Air Koryo employee Kim Uk Il was issued.

Mr Kim's death has sparked a diplomatic row between the two nations, with Malaysia rescinding visa-free entry for North Koreans.

:: North Korea's history of assassinations

Kuala Lumpur has not directly accused North Korea of being behind the killing. Pyongyang has rejected the claim that VX killed Mr Kim, claiming he probably died from a heart attack.

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