Jong-nam murder: Jong-chol to be blacklisted from entering Malaysia

THARANYA ARUMUGAM

KUALA LUMPUR: North Korean citizen Ri Jong-chol, who will be deported to his home country tonight, will be barred from entering Malaysia, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Jong-chol, previously arrested in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam on Feb 18, will depart via Malaysia Airline MH360 to Beijing, China at 6.25pm.

“The police will surrender him to the Immigration department. He will be escorted by two North Korean embassy officials to Beijing, China and he will then fly to Pyongyang, North Korea.

"He has to be deported because there is no strong evidence to charge him here. He is diplomatically unwanted by Malaysia and he has no valid travel document," Zahid told a press conference after launching the Malaysian Felda Youth Council's (MBFM) annual general meeting at the Seri Pacific Hotel here today.

Touching on ties with North Korea, Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said North Korea has to respect international diplomatic procedures, Malaysian laws as well as and the culture and ethics of the country.

Jong-chol, described as an expert in chemistry, allegedly drove one of four North Korean men who were believed to be the masterminds behind Jong-nam’s murder.

The four – Ri Ji-hyon, 33; Hong Song-hac, 34; O Jong-gil, 55; and Ri Jae-nam – are still being hunted by police for reportedly orchestrating the attack on Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Jong-nam was murdered on the morning of Feb 13 in what has been described as an elaborate and high-profile assassination. His assailants were two foreign women who were charged with his murder on Wednesday.