Kim Jong-Nam's body returned to North Korea as suspects released

Russell Hope, News Reporter

The body of Kim Jong-Nam has arrived in North Korea, along with three people wanted for questioning by Malaysian authorities over his murder.

Kim, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, was poisoned in Kuala Lumpur airport after VX nerve agent , a lethal chemical that is on a UN list of weapons of mass destruction, was smeared in his face.

A coffin carrying his body left for Beijing on Thursday and has since been flown to North Korean capital Pyongyang.

The release of his remains was only secured after lengthy negotiations resolved a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Malaysia had demanded to question three men it believes arranged the assassination and who were hiding out in North Korea's embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

North Korea, angry about Malaysia insisting on a post-mortem before handing over the body, refused and matters escalated until both governments slapped a travel ban on each others' citizens.

But Malaysia's police chief said the three people had been allowed to leave after giving statements and being cleared of any wrongdoing.

"We have obtained whatever we wanted from them... and are 'satisfied' with the statements," said Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar.

Two women - an Indonesian and a Vietnamese national - have been charged with killing Kim Jong-Nam, but claim they believed they were involved in a prank.

That view is backed up by South Korean and US officials, who see them as pawns in an operation carried out by North Korean agents.

Under the deal to release the body, nine Malaysian citizens who had been held in Pyongyang were returned to Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

King Jong-Nam was the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, but was passed over in favour of his younger sibling, Kim Jong-Un, after embarrassing his father.

The 45-year-old spoke out against his family's dynastic control of the isolated nation and made a botched attempt to enter Japan in May 2001 on a forged passport.

He had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau, under China's protection.

In a separate development, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on 11 North Korean commercial operations which it says are involved in aiding North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes