North Korea Denounces Probe Into Murder of Kim's Half-Brother

  • Ambassador accuses Malaysia of colluding with South Korea
  • Estranged brother died after attack at Kuala Lumpur airport

North Korea’s envoy to Malaysia demanded to take part in the country’s murder probe into the death of leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother last week, which he said was tainted by “collusion” with its arch-rival, South Korea.

Ambassador Kang Chol issued his statement in Kuala Lumpur after being summoned to Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs over earlier criticism of the investigation. Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy on Monday, Kang raised the possibility that local police had “fabricated” suspects to implicate his country in what South Korean authorities have described as a brazen assassination of one of Kim’s few remaining rivals.

Kang Chol addresses journalists in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 20.

Photographer: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images

“As far as all the happenings clearly show that this incident is politicized by Malaysia in collusion with the South Korea, we officially inform Malaysia and the international community that we suggest the joint investigation for its clear clarification,” Kang said.

The Feb. 13 murder of Kim Jong Nam -- the oldest son of the late leader, Kim Jong Il -- has raised questions about the stability of Kim’s regime as he accelerates plans to build nuclear weapons that threaten the U.S., South Korea and Japan. South Korean government officials have speculated that Kim was behind the killing of his half-brother, a critic of his leadership who had lived outside the country for years.

Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned Kang on Monday to seek an explanation about a news briefing he held on Friday in which he said Malaysia had “something to conceal” and was “colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces.” Malaysia said it recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang for consultations.

‘Mysterious Circumstances’

“As the death occurred in Malaysian soil under mysterious circumstances, it is the responsibility of the Malaysian government to conduct an investigation to identify the cause of death,” the Foreign Ministry said. “This investigation has been conducted in the manner prescribed by Malaysian law.”

On Friday, Kang said “the South Korean puppets are desperate to escape from their miserable state of the largest-ever political scandal,” in an apparent allusion to the impeachment proceedings against the country’s suspended president, Park Geun-hye. He repeated the claim Monday, suggesting the case could benefit the U.S.’s efforts to deploy a more advanced missile-defense system on the Korean peninsula.

Malaysian police have detained four suspects in connection with the investigation and are holding them for seven days. They are seeking four others who are believed to have fled Malaysia after the attack.

Poison Liquid

Malaysia’s Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said Sunday that the cause of death was still unknown and that investigators were awaiting toxicology and pathology test results. Kim had complained of dizziness after two unidentified women wiped liquid on his face, Noor Rashid said.

Neither North Korea nor the Malaysian police have confirmed the victim’s identity as Kim Jong Un’s brother, since he was carrying a diplomatic passport that identified him as Kim Chol. Malaysian authorities are seeking to meet his next-of-kin to verify his identity through DNA tests, Noor Rashid said.

Noor Rashid said Malaysia was following legal procedures and requirements despite allegations by North Korea, which reportedly declined to accept the initial results of the autopsy because it was performed without the attendance of Pyongyang officials.

South Korea was “certain” the man who was killed at Malaysia’s airport is Kim Jong Nam, after taking various factors into account, the country’s Unification Ministry spokesman, Jung Joon-hee, said in a briefing on Sunday. “North Korea is likely behind the death of Kim," said Jung, citing the fact that some of the suspects are North Korean nationals.

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