North Korea questions whether poison was used

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar (second from left) at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where he said North Korean diplomat Hyon Kwang Song was being sought to aid the probe into Mr Kim Jong Nam's death. Police are also looking for
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar (second from left) at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where he said North Korean diplomat Hyon Kwang Song was being sought to aid the probe into Mr Kim Jong Nam's death. Police are also looking for Mr Kim Uk Il.PHOTO: REUTERS
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar (second from left) at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where he said North Korean diplomat Hyon Kwang Song was being sought to aid the probe into Mr Kim Jong Nam's death. Police are also looking for
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where he said North Korean diplomat Hyon Kwang Song was being sought to aid the probe into Mr Kim Jong Nam's death. Police are also looking for Mr Kim Uk Il (above).

North Korean Embassy officials continued to stoke fire with another scathing statement yesterday against the Malaysian authorities, calling for the release of all three suspects in custody and casting doubt on whether poison was used in the death of Mr Kim Jong Nam.

It also accused Malaysia of infringing international laws in managing the investigation.

Following Malaysian Inspector- General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar's remarks that the two female suspects had used their hands to "wipe" liquid onto the victim's face, the North Korean Embassy questioned whether poison had been used in the incident.

"How is it possible that these female suspects could be alive after the incident?" it said in the statement. "This means that the liquid they daubed for a joke is not poison, and there is another cause of death for the deceased."

Describing the Indonesian and Vietnamese women who have been arrested as "innocent", and calling the arrest of its citizen "unreasonable", the embassy said the three suspects should be released immediately.

ILLEGAL ACT

This is extremely insulting to the sovereignty of the DPRK (North Korea), an illegal act of infringing the international laws and customs and the diplomatic privileges and, at the same time, a clear evidence that Malaysia takes sides with the South Korean allegations.

NORTH KOREAN EMBASSY

"It has been 10 days since the incident happened, but Malaysian police have not found any evidence from the arrested suspects," it added.

North Korean officials have demanded the release of Mr Kim's body. He had been carrying a diplomatic passport with the name Kim Chol and the age listed as 46.

Embassy officials refuse to acknowledge that the deceased is Mr Kim, the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

They also requested a joint investigation with the Malaysian authorities, which Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected.

Yesterday, North Korea hit out again at Malaysia, branding its investigation into the case as "targeted", and accusing Malaysia of pinning suspicion on North Koreans.

It also said Malaysia had disregarded the embassy's confirmation of the deceased's identity.

South Korean lawmakers have said Mr Kim's death was a result of orders from Mr Kim Jong Un, linking the North Korean government to the case.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea questions whether poison was used'. Print Edition | Subscribe