Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | AFP | The body of the assassinated half-brother of North Korea’s leader, which has been stored in a Malaysian morgue for more than six weeks, will be sent to Pyongyang under a deal announced Thursday.
Kim Jong-Nam was poisoned with a lethal nerve agent in a brazen Cold War-style killing in a Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Under the terms of the agreement, nine Malaysians prevented from leaving Pyongyang will be freed and North Koreans in Kuala Lumpur will be allowed to go home.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted that the “diplomatic crisis is over”.
Here is a timeline of key events:
– February 13: A 45-year-old man holding a North Korean passport identifying himself as Kim Chol dies after being attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
– February 14: South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, has been assassinated in the Malaysian capital. Seoul blames the North for the murder.
– February 15: An autopsy by Malaysian authorities begins. Police arrest a Vietnamese woman in connection with the murder.
– February 16: A second woman is detained.
– February 18: Malaysian police arrest 46-year-old North Korean citizen Ri Jong Chol in connection with the murder.
– February 22: Malaysia says the North Korean embassy’s second secretary and a North Korean airline employee are wanted for questioning.
– February 24: Malaysia says VX nerve agent, classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction, was the poison used to kill Kim Jong-Nam.
– March 1: Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam are charged with murder. North Korea pours scorn on what it calls “absurd” claims that VX was used, saying South Korea and the US are mounting a smear campaign against it.
– March 2: Malaysia cancels a visa-free travel deal with North Korea.
– March 3: Ri Jong-Chol is released by Malaysian police due to insufficient evidence, and is deported.
– March 6: Malaysia deports North Korea’s ambassador and Pyongyang orders tit-for-tat expulsion of Malaysia’s envoy even though he has already left.
– March 7: Tensions escalate after North Korea bans Malaysians from leaving Pyongyang. Malaysia also bars North Koreans from leaving Malaysia.
– March 8: A video of a man describing himself as the son of Kim Jong-Nam emerges, the first time a family member has publicly spoken about the killing. South Korea’s intelligence agency confirms the individual on the video is Kim Han-Sol.
– March 10: Malaysian police say they have confirmed the dead man’s identity as Kim Jong-Nam but refuse to reveal how his identity was determined.
– March 15: Malaysia’s deputy prime minister says investigators used a DNA sample from a child of Kim Jong-Nam to confirm his identity.
– March 16: Interpol issues an international arrest warrant for four North Koreans wanted by Malaysian investigators for the killing.
– March 29: Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak says his government is engaged in “very sensitive” talks with North Korea over the nine Malaysians stranded in Pyongyang.
– March 30: Najib announces an agreement to return the body to North Korea and for nine Malaysians in Pyongyang to be freed. North Koreans in Kuala Lumpur will also be allowed to go home.
A van believed carrying Kim’s body leaves a hospital morgue for the airport and media reports say it is put on a Beijing-bound plane.