North Korean ambassador condemns ‘political’ investigation into assassination of Kim Jong-nam by Malaysian authorities

Spat has escalated after Malaysia rejected demands from North Korean diplomats to hand over the body of Jong-nam
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North Korea’s top envoy in Kuala Lumpur has denounced Malaysia’s investigation into the apparent killing of the exiled half brother of North Korea’s ruler, calling it politically motivated and demanding a joint probe into the death.

“The investigation by the Malaysian police is not for the clarification of the cause of the death and search of the suspect, but it is out of the political aim,” Ambassador Kang Chol told reporters on Monday.

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Police had “pinned the suspicion on us,” he said, calling on Malaysia and the international community to work with North Korea on a joint investigation.

Malaysia also confirmed it had recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang, as a spat over the investigation into the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother intensified, after Malaysia rejected demands from North Korean diplomats to hand over the body of Kim Jong-nam.

“The Ministry emphasised that as the death occurred on Malaysian soil under mysterious circumstances, it is the responsibility of the Malaysian Government to conduct an investigation to identify the cause of death,” a foreign ministry statement said of the meeting with the North Korean ambassador.

Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs spoke with ambassador Kang Chol at the ministry on Monday morning, the statement said.

Chol last week accused Malaysia of colluding with “hostile forces” to damage the North, after Seoul said Pyongyang had orchestrated the airport attack.

Malaysia views the complaint as “baseless”, the foreign ministry statement said, adding that “the Malaysian government takes very seriously any unfounded attempt to tarnish its reputation”.

“The Malaysian Ambassador in Pyongyang has been recalled to Kuala Lumpur for consultations,” it added.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak backed those running the probe, saying it would be “very professional”.

“I have absolute confidence that they are very objective in whatever they do,” he said on Monday in his first comments since news of the killing broke. “We have no reason why we want to do something that would paint the North Koreans in a bad light. But we would be objective and we expect them to understand that we apply the rule of law in Malaysia.”

-Additional reporting by Associated Press

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