LACK OF EVIDENCE FRUSTRATES COPS
Police have issued arrest warrant for Air Koryo employee, seeks embassy official’s cooperation
INSPECTOR-GENERAL of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday said police believed that Ri Jong-chol was involved in the murder of Kim Jong-nam.
However, he said, police had no choice but to release Jong-chol, who was the only North Korean arrested over the assassination, due to a lack of evidence.
Khalid, who said he regretted the release, said police believed that Jong-chol played a part in Jong-nam’s murder.
“Unfortunately we lack evidence to charge him.
“We are frustrated because of the lack of evidence,” he said in a text reply.
Jong-chol was among eight North Koreans suspected of involvement in killing Jong-nam, who is the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Khalid denied that political or diplomatic pressure had been a factor in the release.
He said Jong-chol was released purely based on the outcome of investigations.
Jong-chol had been in police remand since Feb 18 after investigators discovered that he had driven one of four North Korean men wanted in the murder.
He was arrested at his condominium in Jalan Kuchai Lama here.
Jong-chol’s release came two days after two women — Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, and Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesia — were separately charged with murdering Jong-nam.
They face the death penalty if found guilty.
Seven other North Koreans are wanted in connection with the killing, including a diplomat and an airline employee. They are believed to be in Malaysia. Four are thought to have fled to Pyongyang on the day of the murder.
Jong-nam was attacked as he waited to board a flight at klia2.
Closed-circuit television camera footage showed two women approaching the heavyset 45year-old and apparently swiping his face with a cloth. He later suffered a seizure and died less than 20 minutes after the attack.
Khalid said police had issued a warrant of arrest for an employee of the North Korean airline Air Koryo to assist in the murder investigation.
Khalid, in a WhatsApp message to Bernama, said the warrant was issued against Kim Uk-il, 37.
Khalid said police also sent a request through the Foreign Ministry seeking the cooperation of Hyon Kwang-song, second secretary at the North Korean embassy, to assist in the probe.
He said the letter sent via Wisma Putra had been delivered to the embassy.
Khalid had previously said police would adhere to international protocol to obtain information from Kwang-song, who has diplomatic immunity.
He also confirmed that police had stepped up security checks at border checkpoints, including at jetties, airports and land routes.
He said this was to prevent suspects possibly linked to the murder or spies from other countries from entering or leaving Malaysia.
Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar