Kim Jong-nam body ‘arrives in Pyongyang’

A van believed to carry the body of late Kim Jong-nam leaves the mortuary of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 March 2017The body was believed to have been driven from the mortuary in Kuala Lumpur to the city’s airport in this van

The body of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has arrived in Pyongyang, Chinese officials say.

North Korea had requested the body, but has not confirmed its identity.

It was released as part of a deal under which nine Malaysians previously prevented from leaving North Korea have now arrived home.

The two countries had been locked in a diplomatic row in the wake of Mr Kim’s murder in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Both countries had banned each other’s citizens from leaving.

“The body of the DPRK citizen who died in Malaysia and relevant DPRK citizens have returned to the DPRK today via Beijing,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea is widely suspected of having orchestrated the killing with a nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur’s airport.

Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport, Feb 2007Mr Kim was the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Three North Koreans who had been wanted for questioning have now been allowed to leave Malaysia, Malaysia’s chief of police said.

“We have obtained whatever we wanted from them” and are “satisfied” with the statements, Khalid Abu Bakar said.

Who requested the body?

In the wake of Mr Kim’s killing on 13 February, Pyongyang reacted angrily when Malaysia refused to hand over the body immediately, without an autopsy.

Malaysian authorities said they had the right to conduct an autopsy as he had been killed on Malaysian soil, and that they would only release the body to Mr Kim’s family.

North Korean and Chinese officials gather at the VIP entrance at Beijing airport after the arrival of flight MH360 from Malaysia early on 31 March 2017.North Korean and Chinese officials were seen at Beijing airport after the plane carrying Mr Kim’s body landed early on Friday

On Thursday, Mr Najib said a formal request had been received from the family, but gave no further details.

A day later, national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said “legally speaking, Kim Jong Un is the next-of-kin” but declined to say who the request had come from.

King Jong-nam’s own family previously lived in Macau but they are now thought to be in hiding.

His son Kim Han-sol appeared in a video earlier this month confirming he was with his mother and sister at an unspecified location.

Although he was the eldest son of the former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un was passed over for the leadership and was living outside North Korea at the time of his father’s death.

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