North Korea blames Malaysia for Kim Jong-nam’s death, accusing authorities of ‘conspiratorial racket’ with South Korea
Malaysia, meanwhile, has asked Interpol to put an alert out to apprehend four North Korean suspects
North Korea blamed Malaysia on Thursday for the death of one of its citizens there last week and accused it of an “unfriendly attitude” in a scenario drawn up by South Korea, which has said Pyongyang agents assassinated the North Korean leader’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam.
Malaysia had initially told North Korea the person bearing a diplomatic passport had died after suffering a heart attack at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency said.
KCNA, citing a spokesman for a state committee, said Malaysia quickly changed its position and started to complicate the matter after reports surfaced in South Korea that the man was poisoned to death.
“What merits more serous attention is the fact that the unjust acts of the Malaysian side are timed to coincide with the anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket launched by the South Korean authorities,” KCNA said, using the North’s formal name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Malaysia, meanwhile, has requested Interpol put an alert out to apprehend four North Korean suspects, Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Thursday.
Police are also holding one North Korean man, but are seeking another seven in connection with the assassination. Three of them – a diplomat, a state airline official, and another man – are believed to still be in Malaysia.
Khalid told reporters a request had been made to Interpol to put out an alert to apprehend the four other suspects, who they believe have already made their way back to North Korea.
Khalid also said the police have sent an official request to the North Korean embassy requesting to interview the embassy’s second secretary and the airline official, having released their names on Wednesday.
“If you have nothing to hide, you should not be afraid to cooperate, you should cooperate,” Khalid told reporters.
North Korea’s state media, in the first official media report of the killing, did not name the person who died on the way to the hospital or acknowledge that he was the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, referring to him only as “a citizen of the DPRK”.
“The biggest responsibility for his death rests with the government of Malaysia as the citizen of the DPRK died in its land,” the KCNA report said.
The state media also blasted Malaysia for carrying out an “illegal and immoral” autopsy on Jong-nam.
“Malaysia is obliged to hand his body to the DPRK [North Korea] side as it made an autopsy and forensic examination of it in an illegal and immoral manner,” the North’s Korean Jurists Commitee told KCNA.
Malaysia has not released the corpse “under the absurd pretext” that it needs a DNA sample from the dead man’s family.
“This proves that the Malaysian side is going to politicise the transfer of the body in utter disregard of international law and morality and thus attain a sinister purpose”, it said.
The North’s statement repeated Pyongyang’s demand for a joint investigation, stressing it was ready to dispatch a delegation of its jurists.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s envoy called for Malaysia to release the North Korean citizen being held, along with two other women who have been detained.
“They should immediately release the innocent females from Vietnam and Indonesia as well as a DPRK citizen,” ambassador Kang Chol said in a statement which repeated allegations that South Korea had influenced the probe.
The women must have been framed as they would have died if they had carried the poison in their hands, the ambassador claimed.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Reuters