How North Korea got away with murder in Malaysia
Pyongyang releases nine Malaysians and Prime Minister Najib Razak returns Kim Jong-nam’s body to North Korea, but an expert says the rogue state’s regional espionage efforts are more firmly entrenched than ever
By Phar Kim Beng
31 Mar 2017
With the release of nine Malaysians from Pyongyang yesterday – three diplomatic staff and their family members – the geopolitical saga over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on February 13 appears to have come to an end.
At the heart of the issue was not the possession or transport of Kim Jong-nam’s body – now returned to Pyongyang – but rather the two North Korean suspects who were holed up in their embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The pair have since been put on a flight back to Pyongyang via Beijing – incidentally, on the same aeroplane that repatriated Kim Jong-nam’s remains as well.
READ MORE: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2083846/how-north-korea-got-away-murder-malaysia
Doan Thi Huong, centre, the Vietnamese suspect in the killing of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, is escorted by police officers in Sepang, on March 1. Photo: AP
The drama of Kim Jong-nam’s murder will now move to the courtroom. The two women, one Vietnamese and one Indonesian, accused of smearing the VX agent on Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport could face the death penalty in Malaysia.
The trial could last 10 to 15 years, however, and Vietnam and Indonesia might ask for their release on the grounds that they were duped into the nefarious designs of a hermetic regime in North Korea. Also, now that all North Korean suspects have returned to Pyongyang, the criminal investigations by the Malaysian police could be compromised, since they won’t be there to testify.
As for Najib, he will claim that his back-door diplomacy worked. The nine hostages were released unharmed within two weeks.
If Asean attitudes do not harden towards North Korea, the murder of Kim Jong-nam is likely only to encourage more brazen acts in the future.
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