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North Korean envoy arrives in Malaysia to claim body of leader's half brother

By Allen Cone
North Korean envoy arrives in Malaysia to claim body of leader's half brother
Ri Tong Il, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media Tuesday at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. North Korea sent him to Malaysia to retrieve Kim Jong Nam's body, the half brother of its leader, and to seek the release of a North Korean arrested in the murder. Photo by EPA

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- North Korea dispatched a high-ranking envoy to Malaysia for the "humanitarian issue" of securing the remains of leader Kim Jong Un's half brother.

Ri Tong Il, a former North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, arrived Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur to ask Malaysia to hand over the body of its citizen. Malaysian authorities said Sunday that Kim Jong Nam died within 20 minutes when VX, an internationally banned nerve agent, was splashed in his face by two women at the terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.

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South Korea has accused Kim of ordering a "terrorist" attack to remove his brother as a potential rival and on Tuesday its foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, called for North Korea to be expelled from the United Nations.

"And now is the time, I believe, for us to seriously consider taking more fundamental measures on their membership in relevant regional and international forums including the UN as well as the CD," he said at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Malaysia said it won't release the body without DNA identification, but no family member provided it.

North Korea won't reveal the body belongs to the leader's half brother. Officials refer to him as a North Korea citizen on a diplomatic passport, Kim Chol.

North Korea claimed the autopsy was performed in an "illegal and immoral" manner and Malaysia has colluded with South Korea in the case, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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The former North Korean ambassador also said he wants the release of a North Korean scientist arrested in connection with the killing.

"Development of friendly relations between North Korea and the Malaysian government will also be discussed," Ri told reporters outside the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Also Tuesday, Malaysian police said the two women arrested in the attack would be charged with murder Wednesday. Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian citizen Siti Aisyah have said they were told the attack was a prank for a reality TV show and were paid about $80 each to participate. Kim died within 20 minutes.

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Police are looking for three suspects, including Hyon Kwang Song, 44, second secretary at the North Korean Embassy.

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