CHEMIST Ri Jong-chol, the only North Korean to be detained so far in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, was deported yesterday. “We are frustrated because of a lack of evidence (to charge him),” says Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. Meanwhil
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CHEMIST Ri Jong-chol, the only North Korean detained in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, was deported yesterday after police released him due to a lack of evidence to charge him.
The 47-year-old was put on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH360 to Beijing, China, at 6.25pm after he was taken straight to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) tarmac.
The Mercedes-Benz transporting him was escorted by armed policemen via an emergency entrance meant for Fire and Rescue Department vehicles.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Mustafar Ali said Jong-chol was accompanied by two representatives from the North Korean embassy.
On Thursday, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said Jong-chol would be released due to a lack of evidence to charge him in connection with the murder of Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Apandi said Jong-chol must be deported as he did not have valid documents.
Jong-chol was released from the Sepang police headquarters after his remand ended yesterday.
Scores of press members had camped outside the police headquarters as early as 5am.
Jong-chol was clad in a black T-shirt when he was ushered out of the headquarters into one of the police cars waiting within the compound at 8.50am.
He was whisked away under heavy, armed police escort.
At least six police cars were on standby and a Special Task Force on Organised Crime team provided a cordon sanitaire for the area.
Jong-chol was later taken to the Putrajaya Immigration Department to initiate the deportation process.
At 9.15am, the car ferrying Jong-chol entered the premises through the basement parking entrance to avoid the media scrum that had been on standby at the main entrance.
A source said Jong-chol had his fingerprints recorded and was issued with a Check-Out Memo before his deportation.
Later, North Korean embassy counsellor (consulate and administration) Kim Yu-song arrived at the Immigration Department to facilitate the deportation process.
He declined to speak to reporters.
Yu-song, who spent about two hours at the department, was ambushed by the press, who bombarded him with questions.
He only repeatedly said, “No comment.”
When asked if he would issue a statement or hold a press conference, he said: “Maybe. I am busy now.”
After spending more than six hours at the department, Jongchol was taken in a police vehicle to KLIA.
At the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, ambassador Kang Chol was seen leaving the area with two teenagers — a boy and a girl — believed to be Jong-chol’s children, in separate cars.
It was a cat-and-mouse game as Jong-chol and his family evaded the media at the airport.
As the media swamped the car ferrying the family, they were spotted covering their faces.
The car had to circle twice to avoid the media before the driver decided to enter the airport via the entrance near the KLIA Fire and Rescue Department.
Yu-song arrived five minutes later and was chased by reporters. He repeated his reply of “no comment” to questions and said he was at the airport for “personal reasons”.
Later, Yu-song was seen inside a car with a man, believed to be an officer from the Immigration Department.
He was spotted passing an envelope to the man before exiting the car and disappearing into the crowd.
Jong-chol arrived at the airport about 4pm. Three men, wearing black T-shirts bearing the words “Criminal Investigation Department”, were seen checking in at the counter.
Jong-chol had been in police remand since Feb 18 after investigators discovered that he had driven one of the four North Korean men wanted in the murder.
He was arrested at his condominium in Jalan Kuchai Lama five days after Jong-nam was attacked at klia2 by two women, who allegedly killed him using the VX nerve agent.
Two teenagers, believed to be suspect Kim Jong-chol’s children, were seen exiting an official North Korean embassy car at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.