SEOUL â North Korea said Monday that Malaysia cannot be trusted to carry out the investigation into last weekâs killing of leader Kim Jong Unâs half brother, as tensions over the death become increasingly heated.
With South Korea saying it was âcertainâ that Pyongyang was behind the âact of terrorismâ and Malaysia insisting it will continue following establish procedures, the already sensational case is becoming more dramatic by the day.
Adding to the intrigue: CCTV footage released Monday showing the attack on Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport. The 45-year-old North Korean is seen going to the check-in kiosk, when two women ambush him and appear to apply what authorities have said was a poison. He died shortly afterward.
North Korea has become angrier by the day over case, accusing Malaysia of colluding with South Korea to try to make it look bad, and of âhuman rights abusesâ over the way the autopsy was conducted and its treatment of a North Korean suspect and his family.
Â âWe cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police,â Kang Chol, Pyongyangâs envoy, told reporters outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur Monday afternoon, noting that there had been no evidence of the cause of death even a week after the attack.Â
âIt only increases the doubt that there could be someone elseâs hand behind the investigation,â he said, echoing a previous allegation that South Korea was trying to malign North Korea, and accusing Malaysia of defaming Pyongyangâs reputation.Â
He proposed that North Korea and Malaysia should open a joint investigation into Kim Jong Namâs death.Â
Kangâs statement came after he was summoned to the Malaysian foreign ministry over his criticism of Kuala Lumpurâs investigation. Meanwhile, Malaysia recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang for âconsultations.â
“The Malaysian government regards as unfounded the criticisms made by the North Korean ambassador,â Malaysiaâs ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement earlier Monday. “The Malaysian government takes a serious view of all the accusations made aimed at tarnishing the country’s reputation.”
North Korea had strongly objected to Malaysiaâs decision to conduct a post mortem on Kim Jong Nam, and then when on a public tirade when it emerged it was inconclusive and that a second post mortem would be needed.Â
âTheir attempt to mangle again his body not to release [it] is the culmination of human rights abuse and shows once again how they are desperate to shift blame on us,â Kang said in a statement that he read out to reporters.Â
The results of the second autopsy could be out Wednesday, Malaysiaâs health ministry said.Â
With one North Korean in custody in Malaysia and at least four of his compatriots suspected of involvement, South Korea voiced increasing certainty that the North Korean regime was behind the assassination.Â
âIt seems clear that the North Korean regime is behind this case,â Hwang Kyo-ahn, the South Korean prime minister who is now acting as president, told a meeting of the National Security Council Monday.Â
The apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam was an âunacceptable inhumane criminal actâ and that Pyongyang should be punished for committing this âact of terrorism,â he said.Â
His pronouncement came after Malaysia released information on four North Koreans who had been in Kuala Lumpur for several weeks but left on the same day of the attack.Â
The man who has been arrested is 47-year-old Ri Jong Chol, who is said to have a background in chemistry and to have studied in India. A Facebook page belonging to a Ri Jong Chol who studied at Kim Il Sung University and lists his home as Pyongyang features a profile photo of a man wearing gloves in a science lab.
The other four named by Malaysia as suspects are now back in North Korea, having gone to great lengths to avoid going through China â the most direct route â to get home. They appear to have flown from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta then to Dubai and onto Vladivostok, before traveling from there to Pyongyang.
Â It is not known why they went to such trouble, although China had been protecting Kim Jong Nam, who had lived in quasi-exile in Beijing and the Chinese territory of Macau for the past 15-odd years.Â
South Korea had reached this degree of certainty based on Malaysianâs suspicions., Hwang said.Â
When pressed to explain how South Korea could be so certain â a position expressed within 24 hours of the attack becoming known â the unification minister, Hong Yong-pyo, said that this conclusion was based on âNorth Koreaâs behavior.âÂ
âWe can see from North Koreaâs past activities that this is points to North Korea,â Hong said at a press conference with foreign reporters in Seoul, saying that one characteristic of the Kim Jong Un regime was that it operated as âa reign of terror.âÂ Â