A auto leaving the National Forensic Medicine Institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, apparently transporting the corpse of Kim Jong-nam for religious rites, March 26.
Malaysia's health minister says the body of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still in the country, dismissing reports that the remains of Kim Jong Nam were about to be flown out of the country as part of diplomatic negotiations.
Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 by the two women, who smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for his death, but the North denies this, refusing to confirm the identity of the victim, who was carrying a passport bearing the name of Kim Chol when he was attacked.
Responding to reporters' questions on March 26 on the possibility of Kim's corpse being returned to North Korea, Malaysian Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said it was "very likely", Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao newspaper reported.
"The negotiations between Foreign Ministry and the North Korean government are still ongoing", the New Straits Times quoted him as saying. Malaysia responded in kind, barring North Koreans from exiting its soil.
China Press, a Chinese language newspaper in Malaysia, on Monday reported that the body's return to North Korea was organised in return for the release of nine Malaysians stranded in North Korea. On Tuesday, however, Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper reported that preparations were underway to put the body on a plane to Beijing, where it will make a stopover before heading to Pyongyang.
Aside from the two young women, eight North Koreans are suspected of having some involvement in the assassination, including diplomat Hyon Kwang-song and two others who are thought be hiding in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Relations between Malaysia and North Korea have deteriorated sharply since Kim's death. Local media outlets have offered conflicting accounts of what's going on with the corpse. It will ultimately invalidate Pyongyang's demands to have the body immediately returned to North Korea.
One of Jong Nam's sons, the 21-year-old Kim Han Sol, is believed to be based in Macau, though some reports have speculated that he may be residing in Beijing since his father's assassination, out of a fear for his safety.
Authorities also said they would allow the three North Korean suspects who are now in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to leave the country without facing criminal charges, according to the paper.