Has Kim Jong-un and by association, North Korea finally crossed a line in the past weeks, with Malaysia and China? Two of the countries which the North was on an affable basis with? We shall soon see.
Friday, the Malaysian Government deported an expert chemist, Ri Jong-chol, a 46-year-old North Korean National they have had in custody since the February 13th of Kim Jong-nam's murder at Kuala Lumpur's International Airport.
Ri's release from Malaysia via China of all choices is yet another show of the growing tensions between the three countries. In light of North Korea's continued denial of any involvement in the murder. Claiming instead that it was South Korea and Malaysia working together and they had conspired to kill Kim Jong-nam, then fabricated the charges against Ri and the North.
Ri was the only person arrested at Kuala Lumpur's Airport and accused of being involved directly with the February 13th, assassination of Kim Jong-nam even though he has continually claimed his innocence. What makes today's announcement of his sudden release and deportation all the more surprising is up till now, Malaysian authorities had charged him with being the person handling and mixing the now suspected nerve agent used to kill Jong-nam. Seven others detained and expected of being involved in the murder have either fled Malaysia to Pyongyang or have gone underground.
Ri's deportation comes after time ran out for either the Malaysian or North Korean Government to file charges that directly tied him to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. Instead of charging him, the Malaysian Government has possibly done Ri a favor and given him the boot. All of this is being done due to the sudden lack of paperwork and evidence that tied him to the murder.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali, commented to reporters as Ri was taken from his jail cell and handed over to a police escort. "He is a free man. His remand has expired, and there is insufficient evidence to charge him. As he has no proper documents, we will deport him."
However, there might be others to hold responsible for Jong-nam's assassination. On the heels of Ri's release comes the news that two women, (one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam), have been detained and face charges in the killing of Kim Jong-nam. That is, if Malaysia chooses to charge them, try them or turn them directly over to North Korea for trial. Either way if these two women are tried and convicted their sentence will be death.