Seoul: North Korea’s state media broke a 10-day silence Thursday on the murder of Kim Jong-Un’s half brother, launching a ferocious assault on Malaysia for “immoral” handling of the case and for playing politics with the corpse.
In its first comments on the airport assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, KCNA said Malaysia bore responsiblity for the death, and accused it of conspiring with South Korea.
“Malaysia is obliged to hand his body to the DPRK (North Korea) side as it made an autopsy and forensic examination of it in an illegal and immoral manner”, the North’s Korean Jurists Committee said, in comments carried by the state-run news agency.
Malaysia has not released the corpse “under the absurd pretext” that it needs a DNA sample from the dead man’s family, it said in a lengthy statement that never identified the victim.
“This proves that the Malaysian side is going to politicize the transfer of the body in utter disregard of international law and morality and thus attain a sinister purpose,” it said.
Malaysia is holding four people — a North Korean man, a Malaysian, and women from Indonesia and Vietnam — over the February 13 attack on Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport as he waited for a flight to Macau.
Leaked CCTV footage shows the portly Kim being approached by two women who appear to put something in his face. Moments later he is seen asking for help from airport staff, who direct him to a clinic. Malaysian police said he suffered a seizure and died before he reached hospital.
An autopsy has ruled out heart failure, with investigators focusing on the theory that a toxin was applied to his face, in what South Korea has insisted was a targeted assassination.
Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said Wednesday in London that the killing was a chance for the international community “to take a series of steps” against the North.
Yun said the assassination by the North, if confirmed, would constitute a “serious breach” of international order.
“If North Korea is confirmed to have been behind the killing, the international community would view this as a state-led act of terrorism that infringes upon Malaysia’s sovereignty”, Yun was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Malaysian police say they want to talk to a total of eight North Koreans, although they think several may have fled to Pyongyang immediately after the killing.
The wanted men include a diplomat from the North Korean embassy to Kuala Lumpur, as well as an airline employee.
The North’s statement, issued in both English and Korean, repeated Pyongyang’s demand for a joint investigation, stressing it was ready to dispatch a delegation.
It said Malaysia had initially claimed the death was from heart failure and that there was no need for any post-mortem examination.
“The biggest responsibility for his death rests with the government of Malaysia as the citizen of the DPRK died in its land,” KCNA said.
“The unfriendly attitude of the Malaysian side found a more striking manifestation in the matter of transferring his body to the DPRK side.
“The DPRK… will watch the future attitude of the Malaysian side.”