North Korean Ri Jong Chol speaks in front of reporters. image courtesy : Stamford Advocate

The North Korean suspect questioned in connection with the death of Kim Jong-nam has said he was the victim of a conspiracy by the Malaysian authorities.

Ri said he wasn’t at the airport the day Kim was killed but that police accused him of being a mastermind and presented him with “fake evidence.” “These men kept telling me to admit to the crime, and if not, my whole family would be killed, and you too won’t be safe. If you accept everything, you can live a good life in Malaysia,” Ri said.

Ri Jong Chol said his detention was a plot to ‘damage the honour of the republic.’

Ri Jong Cho made the comments outside the North Korea embassy in Beijing after he was deported from Malaysia on Friday.

Ri Jong Chol, who had been held since February 17,was released because of a lack of evidence to charge him.He was then handed over to immigration officials for deportation, because he did not have valid travel documents, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.Ri was detained four days after the attack but police never said what they believed his role was.

Two other people remain in custody, both women – one Indonesian, one Vietnamese – accused of smearing Kim’s face with VX, a banned nerve agent considered a weapon of mass destruction.

Malaysian authorities are continuing their investigation into the death of Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who was killed with nerve agent VX at an airport in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur nearly three weeks ago.

Malaysia is looking for seven other North Korean suspects, four of whom are believed to have left the country on the day of the killing. Three others, including an official at the North Korean Embassy and an employee of Air Koryo, North Korea’s national carrier, are believed to still be in Malaysia.

Police on Friday issued an arrest warrant for the Air Koryo employee, Kim Uk Il, but didn’t say why he is a suspect . Police say he arrived in Malaysia on Jan. 29, about two weeks before Kim was killed.

On Thursday, Malaysia announced it was cancelling visa-free travel for visiting North Koreans, citing security reasons.

It has not directly blamed North Korea for the attack, but there is widespread suspicion Pyongyang was responsible.

North Korea has strongly rejected the allegations. It also rejected the findings of the post-mortem examination, having objected to it being carried out at all, and has demanded the body be handed over to them.

It has not yet confirmed that the body is that of Kim Jong-nam, acknowledging him only as a North Korean citizen. Mr Kim was travelling using a passport under a different name.