Kim Jong-Nam's body returned to North Korea as suspects released

Three North Koreans wanted for questioning over the murder of the estranged half-brother of their country's leader were believed on their way home along with the body of Kim Jong Nam on Friday after Malaysia agreed a swap deal with the reclusive state.

Hyon Kwang-song, the second secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Malaysia, and Kim Uk-il, an employee of Air Koryo, were believed to hiding in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur after police named them as suspects.

Malaysia exchanged Kim's body for the release of nine Malaysian citizens held by Pyongyang in a diplomatic spat over Kim's death.

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

Malaysian prosecutors have charged two women - from Indonesia and Vietnam - with killing Kim Jong-nam, but South Korean and United States officials regard them as pawns in an operation carried out by North Korean agents.

In addition, two North Koreans suspected of involvement in the murder also left Malaysia for Pyongyang on the same plane with the body.

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They say Kim Jong-Un had issued a "standing order" for the assassination in order to consolidate his own power after the 2011 death of the father of both.

North Korea has not even publicly acknowledged that the victim was, in fact, Kim Jong Nam.

North Korea, angry about Malaysia insisting on a post-mortem before handing over the body, refused and matters escalated until both governments slapped a travel ban on each others' citizens.

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.

Najib said in seeking a solution to the case, he set two objectives for the committee established to negotiate the problem with North Korea.

Kim Jong-nam, who had been living in exile in the Chinese territory of Macau for several years, survived an attempt on his life in 2012, according to South Korean politicians.

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Malaysia, however, has officially confirmed his identity using DNA evidence.

He said nine Malaysians who were barred from leaving the North were scheduled to leave Pyongyang in the evening. Japan's NHK News reports that they visited North Korea's embassy in Beijing before continuing on to Pyongyang.

The police chief added that Malaysia released Kim Jong Nam's body after receiving a request from his next of kin.

He relayed the events following the discovery of the passport, saying police immediately informed the North Korean embassy of the murder.

Pilot Hasrizan Kamis said the crew dressed in civilian clothes as a "precautionary step" for the mission.

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