Diplomatic row erupts over probe into death

Diplomatic row erupts over probe into death
Hungry for news: Journalists rushing to get a statement from Kang as his official vehicle exits from Wisma Putra.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PUTRAJAYA - A diplomatic row has erupted following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam with Malaysia recalling its ambassador in Pyongyang and summoning North Korea's envoy in Kuala Lumpur.

Kim Jong-namPhoto: Reuters

North Korea has come out strongly to criticise Malaysia's handling of the murder investigation of Jong-nam, the exiled half brother of the country's ruler Kim Jong-un, and has alleged that Malaysia has been colluding with Pyongyang's enemies.

Read also: N Korean officials objected to autopsy on Kim Jong Nam's body: Malaysian sources

Wisma Putra on the other hand has defended the measures taken by the police and others involved in the probe, and said the allegations by North Korea's Ambassador Kang Chol were "baseless".

Things came to a boil on Day 8 since the assassination took place, with Kang holding his second press conference yesterday to demand that his country be given a role in the investigation.

North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang CholPhoto: Reuters

In his first press conference last Friday, Kang had demanded that Malaysia release Jong-nam's body to his country.

"The Malaysian Government takes very seriously any unfounded attempt to tarnish its reputation," Wisma Putra said in a statement which was released by the Foreign Ministry yesterday morning.

The statement, which mentioned Kang by name, was issued while he was still in Wisma Putra, where he was summoned to meet with deputy secretary-general 1 Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.

The statement said Kang had in a press conference insinuated that with respect to the death of a Korean national on Feb 13, "the Malaysian Government had something to conceal".

He also alleged that Malaysia was "colluding and playing to the gallery of external forces".

The ministry said that as the death occurred on Malaysian soil under mysterious circumstances, it was the responsibility of its Government to conduct an investigation to identify the cause of death.

The statement said the North Korean embassy was informed that the death had been classified as sudden death and as such, a post-mortem would have to be carried out.

The embassy had also been informed that once the investigation was concluded, the body would be handed to the next of kin in accordance with existing Malaysian laws and procedures.

"The Malaysian Government has been transparent. The embassy has been kept informed of developments related to the matter as well as the processes involved under Malaysian law.

"For these reasons, the Malaysian Government views the criticism made by the Ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as baseless," the statement added.

Half-brother of N Korean leader assassinated in Malaysia

When contacted, Malaysia's Ambassador to North Korea Mohamad Nizan Mohamad said he will likely be flying back to Malaysia today to consult with Wisma Putra on the matter.

Asked if he had been summoned by North Korea's foreign ministry, Mohamad Nizan said:

"I have served here in Pyongyang before, so we have had many interactions between our side and their Foreign Ministry.

"In this particular case, yes, because it can be considered as a high profile case so there have been interactions.

"We have mentioned our position, and they have mentioned theirs on the matter," Mohamad Nizan told The Star.

It is understood that Mohamad Nizan has been recalled as the Malaysian Government is unhappy over Kang's outburst.

Photo: Asia One

Read also: Kim Jong Nam's death: Murder only shows up Kim Jong Un's insecurity
Kim Jong-nam: The unfortunate crown prince's downfall
Kim Jong-nam's son Han-sol arriving in KL
Could Kim Jong Un's nephew be next?

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