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"Malaysia condemns use of VX at airport; prepares to deport NorthKorean"


 
Friday, March 3, 2017

Malaysia condemns use of VX at airport; prepares to deport North Korean
By Praveen Menon and Angie Teo
Reuters


KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia condemned the use of VX, the super toxic nerve agent 
that killed the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a 
Kuala Lumpur airport last month, as authorities on Friday prepared to deport a 
North Korean suspect.

Kim Jong Nam was murdered on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, 
where he was assaulted by two women who allegedly smeared his face with VX, a 
chemical classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

"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 Malaysian foreign ministry said in a 
statement.

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

"Malaysia does not produce, stockpile, import, export or use any Schedule 1 
toxic chemicals including VX, and has made annual declarations to that effect 
to the OPCW," the statement said.

Relations between Malaysia and North Korea, who have maintained friendly ties 
for decades, have soured since the killing of Kim Jong Nam at the airport two 
weeks ago.
 
North Korea's envoy to Malaysia has said earlier that police investigations in 
the case cannot be trusted. North Korea has not accepted that the dead man is 
Kim Jong Nam, and said on Thursday that its citizen may have died of a heart 
attack.

South Korean intelligence and U.S. officials say the murder was an 
assassination organized by North Korean agents, though the only suspects 
charged in the case so far are an Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman.
 
DEPORTING 

Kim Jong Nam was waiting at the departure hall of the airport when he was 
assaulted by two women, a Vietnamese and an Indonesian, who wiped his face with 
a liquid, identified by an autopsy as VX. He died within 20 minutes of the 
attack.

Both women were charged with murder earlier this week. They have told diplomats 
from their home countries that they thought they were participating in a prank 
for reality television.
 
Another North Korean suspect, who was arrested on Feb 18 over the killing was 
released from a detention center on Friday, and driven away in a police convoy, 
a Reuters witness said.

Ri Jong Chol, who had been detained a few days after the killing was taken to 
the immigration office wearing a bullet proof vest to prepare his deportation 
to North Korea.

Malaysia's attorney-general told Reuters on Thursday that he would be released 
due to insufficient evidence.

Police have identified seven other North Koreans wanted in connection with the 
killing, including a senior embassy official in Kuala Lumpur. Four of them have 
left the country and are believed to be in Pyongyang.
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