Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected North Korea's demand to jointly investigate the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam citing distrust of Malaysia, and defended his country's handling of the case amid an escalating spat.
North Korea's Ambassador Kang Chol last Friday accused Malaysia of "colluding" with enemies after the police turned down Pyongyang's demands not to conduct an autopsy and to hand over the body instead.
Yesterday, Datuk Seri Najib told reporters he has "absolute confidence" in Malaysia's police and doctors who "are very, very professional".
"We have no reason to do something that would paint the North Koreans in a bad light," he said. "We will be objective and we expect them (North Korea) to understand that we apply the rule of law in Malaysia."
Kuala Lumpur earlier yesterday summoned Mr Kang to explain his remarks that Malaysia was "colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces". It also said it was recalling its ambassador to North Korea.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, in a strongly worded statement issued yesterday evening, said the allegations "are culled from delusions, lies and half-truths".
"These allegations... are the basis from which the ambassador concluded that 'there could be someone else's hand behind the investigation'."
Yesterday afternoon, the North Korean envoy demanded that his country be allowed to join the probe into the murder of Mr Kim at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 last Monday. He cited "grave human rights abuses" and distrust of the Malaysian authorities for making the demand.
Speaking to reporters outside the embassy, Mr Kang insisted the dead man was Kim Chol, the name stated in the passport, and not Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"This incident is politicised by Malaysia in collusion with South Korea," he said. "It has been seven days since the incident, but there is no clear evidence on the cause of death and at the moment we cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police."
Mr Kim was at the airport to catch a flight back to Macau, where he had lived for many years, when he was approached by two women, one of whom wiped a poisonous substance on his face. He died on the way to hospital.
Malaysian police have said they will release Mr Kim's body only to his next of kin, who have two weeks to claim it. Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said yesterday that the results of last week's autopsy could be ready as early as tomorrow.
So far, two women, a Malaysian man and a Kuala Lumpur-based North Korean man, Ri Jong Chol, have been arrested. Mr Kang accused police of pointing guns at Ri's family and hitting "his teenage son in the face".
The police are still looking for four North Korean nationals who fled Malaysia on the day of the attack, and have sought Interpol's help to track them down.
The Star daily said all four men had returned to Pyongyang but Reuters, quoting an Indonesian official in Jakarta, said three of them caught an Emirates flight to Dubai from Jakarta late last Monday.
The number of North Korean suspects has led South Korea to assert that Mr Kim was assassinated on the orders of the North Korean government.
This article was first published on Feb 21, 2017.
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