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

  • Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, was surrounded by a heavy police presence as they were charged in a Kuala Lumpur court over the killing.
  • Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, was surrounded by a heavy police presence as they were charged in a Kuala Lumpur court over the killing.
  • Huong, also dressed casually, then heard the charge in Vietnamese.
  • Siti, wearing a red T-shirt, was brought in first to hear the murder charge read out before being taken away.
  • The handcuffed women were both told they faced the death penalty if found guilty.
  • Neither woman was asked to enter a plea and their trial is not expected to begin for several months.
  • Four suspects in the Kim Jong Nam murder: Malaysian Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin (top L), Doan Thi Huong (top R) of Vietnam, North Korean Ri Jong Chol (bottom L) and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia (bottom R).
  • : A still image from a footage broadcast by Chinese state media which they say is believed to show the second woman (wearing yellow top) suspected of involvement in the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam.
  • Mystery woman: A CCTV screen grab showing a woman outside what looked like the airport, was circulated briefly after news broke last night that the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been killed in Malaysia. The picture fits the description of one of the two women believed to be North Korean spies, who had poisoned Kim Jong-nam during a brazen attack at KLIA2.
  • CCTV cameras at KLIA2 have captured a clearer image of a woman believed to be one of the assassins who killed Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
  • The image zooms in on the alleged killer's features, depicting her to be middle-aged and of Asian descent.
  • In the grainy image, she can be seen wearing a top with the word "LOL" in large letters and a blue short skirt, with her right hand over a small sling handbag.
  • North Korea embassy officials leave the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia.
  • Jong-nam, 45, died after he was attacked at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Monday.
  • He is believed to have been attacked by two female agents who splashed his face with a chemical at the airport's departure hall at about 9am on Monday.
  • A statement confirming the death from the Royal Malaysia Police force.
  • Three cars belonging to the North Korean embassy were seen in the compound of the mortuary at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL). At least two of the cars were parked inside the compound while the third was seen parked outside with a police patrol car parked behind it. The cars had diplomatic number plates, one of which was 28-35-DC.
  • Occupants of the cars were at the mortuary where a post-mortem on the body of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was being carried out.
  • North Korean female agents operating in Malaysia have reportedly assassinated the half-brother of the North's leader, Kim Jong-Un - a one-time heir apparent who became a critic of the Stalinist regime.
  • South Korean media said Tuesday that Kim Jong-Nam was killed with poisoned needles at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Officials in Seoul and the Malaysian capital could not confirm his death.
  • Malaysian police said in a statement late Tuesday that a North Korean man, identified as Kim Chol, sought medical assistance at the airport and died on the way to hospital.
  • South Korean media said Jong-Nam had travelled using a fake passport under the name of Kim Chol.
  • If confirmed, it would be the highest-profile death under the Jong-Un regime since the execution of the leader's uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, in December 2013.
  • Jong-Un has been trying to strengthen his grip on power in the face of growing international pressure over his country's nuclear and missile programmes. He has reportedly staged a series of executions. The latest launch of a new intermediate-range missile on Sunday brought UN Security Council condemnation and vows of a strong response from US President Donald Trump.
  • South Korea's national news agency Yonhap quoted a source as saying agents of the North's spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, carried out the assassination on Monday by taking advantage of a security loophole between Jong-Nam's bodyguards and Malaysian police at the airport.
  • Malaysian private security guards stand guard outside the Forensics department at Putrajaya Hospital in Putrajaya on February 14, 2017, where the body of a North Korean man suspected to be Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is believed to be kept.
  • The 45-year-old was killed by two unidentified females wielding poisoned needles at the airport, according to South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun.
  • It said the women hailed a cab and fled immediately afterwards. Jong-Nam, the eldest son of former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favour following an embarrassing botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland. He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.
  • A pedestrian walks in front of a clinic where a North Korean man suspected to be Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is believed had been taken at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur on February 14, 2017.
  • His half-brother took over as leader when their father died in December 2011. Jong-Nam, known as an advocate of reform in the North, once told a Japanese newspaper that he opposed his country's dynastic system of power.
  • He was reportedly close to his uncle Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and political mentor of the current leader. Cheong Seong-Jang, senior researcher at Seoul's Sejong Institute think-tank, said Jong-Nam had been living in near-exile so it was unlikely that Jong-Un saw him as a potential competitor for power.
  • Policemen stand outside the morgue at Putrajaya hospital in Malaysia February 15, 2017.
  • In 2014, Jong-Nam was reported to be in Indonesia - sighted at an Italian restaurant in Jakarta - and was said to be shuttling back and forth between Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France.
  • N Korean officials scuffle with media outside the KL hospital.
  • N Korean officials speaking to Malaysian authorities.
  • The Korean restaurant along Tanjong Pagar road where Kim Jong Nam was said to have dined in when he was spotted in Singapore in 2014.

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

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