Malaysians returning from North Korea arrive home

A group of North Korean officials returned home to Pyongyang on Friday March 31, after being allowed to leave Malaysia in a swap deal between the two countries.

Kim was murdered around midmorning on February 13, when Malaysian police say two women smeared super toxic VX nerve agent on his face at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

They reportedly left for Pyongyang in the afternoon, using an Air China flight.

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.

A nation so absurd that it's nearly (actually not at all when you think about the nuclear weapons and hunger camps etc) amusing, North Korea's cage has been rattled again, this time thanks to USA senator calling Kim Jong-Un 'that insane fat kid'.

"I think this relationship is going to go into cold storage for a very long time", said Dennis Ignatius, a former Malaysian diplomat.

Relations reaffirmedMalaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Anan (3rd R) walks with the nine Malaysian citizens who were previously stranded in Pyongyang as they return home, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.

Malaysian investigators were seeking seven North Korean suspects, four of whom left the country on the day of the murder, three of whom were believed to be hiding in North Korea's embassy, according to the police chief.

However, Malaysia's police chief revealed on Friday that the embassy had initially confirmed he was Kim Jong Nam.

The nine Malaysian nationals were met by their relatives and a large media contingent at Kuala Lumpur airport early on Friday.

The matter was however part of the agreement reached with North Korea, that is, the police must be allowed to interview and interrogate them and North Korea had allowed this to be carried out, he added.

Following the development, the prime minister said Malaysia had now allowed North Korean citizens in the country to leave.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police had already knew the victim was from North Korea, as clearly stated on the victim's passport.

Earlier, sources told Reuters authorities were preparing to transport Kim's body on Malaysia Airlines flight MH360 to Beijing, en route to Pyongyang.

"We did not have concrete evidence to arrest them".

The United States denounced as "unacceptable" the departure ban North Korea had placed on nine Malaysians to pressure the Southeast Asian nation in a dispute over the killing in Kuala Lumpur of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of the North's leader.

On Friday morning Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters: "There can be no substitute for diplomacy, for level-headedness in dealing with such situations, and this has served Malaysia well in this instance".

The pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Hasrizan Kamis, had flown missions into unsafe countries such as Libya, but the Star reported him saying he only started breathing easy after leaving North Korean airspace.

Angered by the probe North Korea slammed a travel ban on Malaysians leaving North Korea, trapping three diplomats and six family members - including four children - in Pyongyang.

Malaysia issues reciprocal ban on North Koreans in Malaysia.

Kim was murdered at Kuala Lumpur airport with a lethal nerve agent last month by two women who rubbed a nerve gas agent on his face.

Feb 20: Malaysia recalls its ambassador to North Korea.

The episode, however, is likely to have cost North Korea one of its few friends.

  • Leroy Wright