Malaysia deported Ri Jong Chol after authorities released him due to insufficient evidence. Malaysia is seeking seven other DPRK nationals in connection with the murder of a man thought to be the DPRK leader's half brother.

Ri Jong Chol, a North Korean held in Kim Jong-nam's murder probe, leaves a Sepang police station to be deported, in Malaysia on March 3, 2017.
Ri Jong Chol, a North Korean held in Kim Jong-nam's murder probe, leaves a Sepang police station to be deported, in Malaysia on March 3, 2017. (TRT World and Agencies)

Malaysia on Friday released and deported a North Korean held as part of the police investigation into the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.

Police released Ri Jong Chol for lack of evidence.

A man thought to be Kim Jong-nam was murdered on February 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Malaysian police believe two women smeared Kim's face with VX, a nerve agent classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.

The women, one from Indonesia and the other from Vietnam, were later detained and were charged this week with Kim's murder.

Police have identified seven other North Koreans in connection with the killing, including a senior embassy official and a member of staff at the North Korean airline Air Koryo. Four of them are known to have left Malaysia.

On Friday, police issued an arrest warrant for 37-year old airline worker, Kim Uk Il, and stepped up checks at all border crossings for DPRK nationals linked to the case.

TRT World spoke to Kuala Lumpur-based journalist Zan Azlee for more details.

Sanctions-busting arms business

Malaysia's deputy prime minister and home minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said authorities would also investigate a DPRK-linked company that is suspected of operating a sanctions-busting arms business in Malaysia.

"Definitely we are going to investigate any such incidences," Zahid said when asked about the arms operation and Glocom, a company with suspected ties to North Korea's intelligence service.

According to a UN report in the hands of the Security Council, Glocom is a front company run by North Korean intelligence agents that sells battlefield radio equipment in violation of UN sanctions, Reuters has reported.

North Korea has not commented on its suspected involvement in the arms operation.

Malaysia condemns use of VX

Malaysia's foreign ministry on Friday condemned the use of the VX nerve agent used to kill Kim.

"The ministry strongly condemns the use of such a chemical weapon by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. Its use at a public place could have endangered the general public," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it is in close contact with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an inter-governmental organisation based in the Netherlands, regarding the incident.

North Korea has not confirmed the death of Kim Jong-nam. It has acknowledged the death of a North Korean but its ambassador said earlier that Malaysian police investigations could not be trusted.

It said that its citizen may have died of a heart attack.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies