PETALING JAYA – A 47-year-old North Korean chemist held over the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, is expected to be released from police custody when a remand order on him expires tomorrow.

Sources said Ri Jong-Chol who was detained on Feb 18 will be freed but will face deportation to North Korea within days after his release.

He is likely to be held under the Immigration Act for an offence related to his travel documents before he is purged out of Malaysia.

It is learnt that the decision to drop charges on Jong-Chol was due to a lack of evidence in mounting charges against him after the Attorney-General’s Chambers examined the probe findings of the case.

Jong-Chol’s arrest came days after Jong-nam’s death after investigators discovered that he had driven one of four North Korean suspects who are sought in the case.

File pix of North Korean Ri Jong-Chol

The four men, Rhi Ji-hyon, 33, Hong Song-hac, 34, O Jong-gil, 55, and Ri Jae-nam, 57 who fled Malaysia and returned to North Korea soon after the victim’s death on Feb 13 are being traced by police with the assistance of Interpol.

It is believed that Jong-Chol was a close friend of Jae-nam, who is the prime suspect among the four North Koreans.

Jae-nam had apparently come to Malaysia last year, posing as a businessman who intended to go into several business ventures with locals.

It is learnt that Jong-Chol, though a chemist, was hired as an IT personnel with a Malaysian company in Cheras and had introduced Jae-nam to several local businessmen here

He was arrested on Feb 18 by police at his condominium unit in Kuchai Lama.

The man is said to have been in Malaysia where he lived with his wife and children for over three years.

– Sundaily