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North Korea, Malaysia at Odds Over Death of Kim Jong Un's Brother

  • VOA News

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam (circled in red) talking to airport staff, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.

Diplomatic tensions are rising between North Korea and Malaysia in the aftermath of the apparent assassination of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kang Chol, North Korea's envoy to Kuala Lumpur, called for a joint probe into the death of Kim Jong Nam Monday, telling reporters his side "cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police."

A TV screen shows pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his older brother Kim Jong Nam, left, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 14, 2017
A TV screen shows pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his older brother Kim Jong Nam, left, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 14, 2017

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by saying his country had no reason "to paint the North Koreans in a bad light," and expressed "absolute confidence" in the objectivity of the investigation.

Malaysia's health minister says the autopsy results on Kim could be released as early as Wednesday.

North Korea Embassy officials leave the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia, Feb. 15, 2017.
North Korea Embassy officials leave the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia, Feb. 15, 2017.

Ambassador Kang was summoned by Malaysia's Foreign Ministry earlier Monday after he openly denounced the host country for rejecting the North's demands to release Kim's body, and to allow a representative from the North Korean embassy to be present at the autopsy. The foreign ministry dismissed the ambassador's claims as "baseless," and recalled its envoy to Pyongyang.

Airport attack

Kim Jong Nam, 45, was accosted and believed to be poisoned by two women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to board a flight bound for the Chinese territory of Macau.

FILE - This image provided by Star TV of closed circuit television footage from Feb. 13, 2017, shows a woman, left, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, who police say was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam.
FILE - This image provided by Star TV of closed circuit television footage from Feb. 13, 2017, shows a woman, left, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, who police say was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam.

Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV aired grainy footage Monday taken by the airport's security cameras that reportedly shows one of the women grabbing Kim from behind and forcibly holding something over his face.

After the attack, Kim is shown seeking help from airport workers while gesturing towards his eyes. He died en route to a hospital.

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam talking to security personnel, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.
A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam talking to security personnel, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.

Investigation continues

Four people have been detained in connection with the crime, including the two suspected assailants and a North Korean national, who was arrested Friday. Investigators are also seeking four North Korean men who flew out of Malaysia on the day of Kim's death.

Malaysia's National Police Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim (front left) speaks in front of a screen showing detained North Korean Ri Jong Chol during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam.
Malaysia's National Police Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim (front left) speaks in front of a screen showing detained North Korean Ri Jong Chol during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam.

Kim Jong Nam was once considered the heir apparent to lead North Korea, but he fell out of favor with his father Kim Jong Il after a failed 2001 attempt to enter Japan on a forged passport to visit Disneyland, and was basically exiled to the Chinese controlled territory of Macau.

South Korea's spy agency says Kim Jong Un issued a "standing order" for his half-brother's assassination after taking power, and there was a failed attempt in 2012. During a National Security Council meeting Monday, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said the deadly attack revealed Pyongyang's "reckless and brutal nature."

Kim Jong Nam was reportedly considered a threat to his half-brother’s rule because of his outspoken criticism of the authoritarian regime.

There has been speculation that China is getting tired of North Korea's repeated nuclear and missile tests in defiance on international sanctions and that the apparent assassination of Kim John Nam may have led to the Chinese decision Saturday to suspend all coal imports from the North. Coal exports are a vital source of revenue for the Pyongyang government.

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