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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.

PIC BY MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA

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.

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