Malaysia to cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans amid probe into Kim Jong-nam’s murder
Malaysia will cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans entering the country from March 6, state news agency Bernama reported on Thursday citing the deputy prime minister.
North Koreans will be required to obtain a visa before entering Malaysia for national security reasons, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying on Bernama.
The move comes two weeks after Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport with a toxic nerve agent. South Korea and US say he was assassinated by agents of the North Korean regime.
North Korea has strongly denied any involvement in the killing, though Malaysian police are looking for three North Koreans including the second secretary at the North Korean Embassy. Police have said four other North Koreans who left the country on the same day as the killing provided the VX liquid and put it on the hands of two women before they wiped it on Kim’s face.
Doan Thi Huong, 28, of Vietnam and Siti Aisyah, 25, of Indonesia were charged with murder in a Kuala Lumpur court on Wednesday in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.
Malaysia has been demanding the repatriation of the suspects who allegedly fled back to the North after the incident.
Meanwhile Malaysia’s attorney general said that the country will release on Friday the only North Korean man in custody in connection with the murder.
The attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, confirmed that Malaysia has decided to deport Ri Jong-chol on the grounds of having “no valid travel documents.”
The remand period for Ri expires Friday.
A former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ri Tong-il, arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday amid an escalating diplomatic row over the death to request Malaysia hand over Kim’s body
Malaysia and North Korea opened embassies in each other’s capital cities in 2004 and 2003, respectively, and they later reached an agreement on reciprocal visa-free visits.
In 2009, Malaysia became the first country granted visa-free travel rights by North Korea for its citizens.
Additional reporting by Kyodo and Korea Times