Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador after Kim Jong-nam murder

Nicola Smith

Malaysia on Saturday expelled the North Korean ambassador over the murder of the half brother of North Korea’s autocratic leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kang Chol was declared “persona non grata” after he said his country “could not trust” Malaysia’s handling of the investigation, and that the investigation was being interfered with. He has been given 48 hours to leave the country.

His expulsion marks another escalation in tensions between the previously friendly nations since Kim Jong-nam was attacked three weeks ago by two women who smeared a deadly chemical on his face at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.

Indonesian, Siti Aisyah, and Doan Thi Huong, from Vietnam, have been charged with murder.

Kim Jong-nam fell ill at Kuala Lumpur's international airport before he died

Malaysia last week cancelled visa-free entry for visitors from North Korea as it continues to hunt for seven suspected North Korean accomplices. It has also been forced to face down pressure from Pyongyang to release the victim’s body without his family’s consent.

On Friday Malaysia deported a North Korean chemist who had been arrested over the murder but not charged. After landing in Beijing, Ri Jong Chol accused the Malaysian police of presenting “fake evidence” and threatening to kill his family if he did not confess.

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of Kim Jong-un, in pictures

Mr Ri, who has now been “blacklisted” for working in Malaysia without valid papers, alleged a plot to tarnish his country’s reputation. The police did not respond to his claims.

North Korea has denied allegations that it was behind the attack, but US and South Korean officials believe it was involved.

Malaysia has not directly accused Pyongyang of orchestrating the killing, but it was incensed by Mr Kang's accusations in late February that the Malaysians were colluding with “hostile forces” to damage the North.

Anifah Aman, the Malaysian foreign minister, said that his country had demanded an apology but did not receive one.

“Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation,” he said.

The ambassador was finally expelled after he failed to appear at Malaysia’s foreign ministry late on Saturday afternoon when he was summoned.

Kim Jong-un | A history of executions - family, allies and rivals

 

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