KUALA LUMPUR: The North Korean diplomat wanted by Malaysian police for questioning in the murder of Kim Jong Nam allegedly sent off the four suspects who escaped back to Pyongyang, a senior police source told Channel NewsAsia.
"The diplomat was caught on CCTV sending off the four North Korean suspects at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)," the source said.
"He was there at KLIA together with a staff from Air Koryo on Feb 13."
The diplomat was earlier identified as Hyon Kwang Song, 44, the second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The employee of Air Koryo - North Korea's flag carrier - was identified as Kim Uk Il, 37.
Malaysian authorities said that both men are still in the country.
(Source: Royal Malaysian Police handout)
The four suspects who fled Malaysia through KLIA are Ri Ji-hyon, 33; Hong Song-hac, 34; O Jong-gil, 55 and Ri Jae-nam, 57. They are believed to have planned and executed the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
They also allegedly recruited the two women who accosted the elder Kim at the low-cost Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) where he had been about to catch a flight back to Macau where he lived in exile.
The women allegedly wiped Kim's face with a toxic substance. He died a short while later.
It is not clear whether the four North Korean suspects were at KLIA 2 at the time of the attack.
They fled Malaysia the same day, escaping via Jakarta, Dubai and Vladivostok before arriving in Pyongyang on Feb 17.
Three of the four North Korean men wanted in connection with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, seen as they caught a flight from Jakarta to Dubai on the evening of the attack. (Screen capture: CCTV footage)
In a media conference on Wednesday (Feb 22), Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said that authorities have called on the North Korean embassy to compel the two men to come forward to assist with investigations.
"We have written to the ambassador to allow us to interview both of them. We hope that the Korean embassy will cooperate with us and allow us to interview them quickly. If not, we will compel them to come to us," Khalid told reporters.
Malaysian police have also asked the North Korean embassy to help trace the four suspects in Pyongyang and hand them over.
"We have been very fair in investigation and they should assist us," said Khalid.
Separately, he disclosed that someone had tried to break into the mortuary at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, where Kim’s body is being kept. He said security has since been stepped up as a precautionary measure to prevent the body from being tampered with.
Khalid declined to give further details, but the senior police source told Channel NewsAsia that it was a reporter who tried to break into the mortuary.
"He was trying to get an exclusive story," the source said.