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Expelled Kang Choi fires final salvo from airport

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 6/3/2017 AFP

kang-chol © Provided by MToday News Sdn Bhd kang-chol KUALA LUMPUR: North Korea’s expelled ambassador fired a final salvo at Malaysia over its probe into the assassination of the half-brother of Pyongyang’s leader, describing the investigation as biased.

Speaking at Kuala Lumpur International Airport before his flight was due to leave, ambassador Kang Chol disparaged what he called a “pretargeted investigation by the Malaysian police”.

The murder of Kim Jong Nam with VX nerve agent at the same airport last month sparked an acrimonious dispute between the two countries.

North Korea has not acknowledged the dead man’s identity but has repeatedly criticised the murder investigation and autopsy, accusing Malaysia of conniving with its enemies.

“They have conducted the autopsy without the consent and attendance of the DPRK (North Korea) embassy and later arrested a DPRK citizen without any clear evidence showing his involvement in the incident,” ambassador Kang said.

South Korea has blamed the North for the murder, citing what it says was a standing order from leader Kim Jong Un to kill his exiled half-brother who may have been seen as a potential rival.

Before the ambassador left for the airport, police armed with assault rifles had cordoned off the entrance to North Korea’s embassy, with police vehicles and motorcycle outriders parked nearby.

Kang departed in a black chauffeured Jaguar — the North Korean flag denoting an ambassador now removed from its bonnet. He checked in a Philips TV, three suitcases and four boxes vacuum-wrapped and stamped with the words, DPRK Pyongyang.

Senior government officials told AFP he was expected to leave at 18.25pm on flight MH360 for Beijing, shortly after the deadline for his expulsion.

Malaysia declared Kang persona non grata on Saturday and gave him 48 hours to leave the country after he failed to apologise for his criticism of the investigation.

The diplomatic dispute erupted last month when police rejected North Korean diplomats’ demands to hand over Kim’s body.

Hostile forces

Kang then claimed the investigation was politically motivated and said Kuala Lumpur was conspiring with “hostile forces” — a reference to the North’s arch-rival, Seoul.

Malaysia summoned Kang for a dressing-down, with Najib saying the ambassador’s statement was “diplomatically rude”.

Malaysia has also recalled its envoy to Pyongyang and cancelled a rare visa-free travel deal with North Korea. It ordered the ambassador expelled after he failed to present himself at the foreign ministry when summoned on Saturday.

The foreign ministry has said the expulsion is “part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations” with North Korea.

The row also extended to sport, with Malaysian football authorities banning the national team from playing an Asian Cup qualifying match in Pyongyang — citing security threats in the wake of the expulsion.

Police are seeking seven North Korean suspects in their probe, four of whom left Malaysia on the day of the murder. But on Friday they released the only North Korean they had arrested for lack of evidence.

After Ri Jong Chol was deported, he claimed police offered him a comfortable life in Malaysia for a false confession, saying the investigation was “a conspiracy to impair the dignity of the Republic (North Korea)”.

Two women — one Vietnamese and one Indonesian — have been charged with the actual murder. Airport CCTV footage shows them approaching the heavyset 45-year-old and apparently smearing his face with a cloth.

Police say he suffered a seizure and died less than 20 minutes later. Swabs of the dead man’s face revealed traces of the VX nerve agent.

Also on MSN:

Rare photos of life in North Korea

Men share an ice-cream in Pyongyang, North Korea April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE Photos of life in North Korea

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