North Korean Delegation to Seek Kim Jong Nam’s Body

2017-02-28
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Ri Tong Il, formerly North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, addresses journalists outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 28, 2017.
Ri Tong Il, formerly North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, addresses journalists outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 28, 2017.
AFP

A delegation of North Korean officials arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday seeking the body of Kim Jong Nam and the release of a North Korean national detained in connection with his assassination involving a deadly nerve agent at an airport.

Police have named eight North Korean suspects in the killing, but two Southeast Asian women were due to be charged Wednesday with Kim’s killing, which South Korea has called an act of state terrorism and a “clear message to the world” from Pyongyang.

Delegation spokesman Ri Tong Il told reporters topics to be discussed with Malaysian officials included “the question of return of the body of the deceased, a DPRK citizen” and “the release of another citizen, who was arrested by Malaysian police related to the above incident.”

“Development of friendly relations between North Korea and the Malaysian government will also be discussed,” the visiting diplomat told reporters outside the North Korean embassy.

Malaysia last week withdrew its envoy to Pyongyang after North Korea’s ambassador repeatedly slammed Malaysia’s investigation and refusal to hand over Kim’s body.

Asked whether the embassy’s second secretary had been interviewed by Malaysian police, Ri refused to answer and walked away.

Second secretary Hyon Kwang Song, 44, is one of three North Korean suspects in the case at large in Malaysia. Four others left Malaysia the day Kim died, police say.

‘Wake-up call’

Kim Jong Nam, the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, died about 15 minutes after two women approached him abruptly at an airport and swabbed his face with a substance that has since been identified as the deadly chemical weapon VX nerve agent.

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were to be charged at the Sepang magistrate’s court Wednesday under Section 302 for murder, sources told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service. The women were arrested separately on Feb. 15 and 16.

Malaysia has stopped short of accusing the North Korean government of ordering Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, but South Korea and U.S. government officials believe North Korean agents carried out the hit.

Among eight North Korean suspects in the case, four are from the ministry of state security and two are from the foreign ministry, Lee Cheol-woo, one of a group of lawmakers briefed by South Korean intelligence, told reporters in Seoul on Monday, according to Reuters.

“That is why it is a case of terrorism led by the state, directly organized by the ministry of state security and the foreign ministry,” Lee said.

In Geneva on Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said North Korea should be suspended from the United Nations over the assassination.

“The recent assassination is a wake-up call to all of us to North Korea’s chemical weapons capability and its intent to actually use them,” Yun told the UN’s Conference on Disarmament, according to Agence France-Presse.

He said the assassination “sent a very clear message to the world: Namely this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

“If the Malaysian government conclusively finds that North Korean authorities are behind this criminal act, the Conference on Disarmament might need to question the membership of North Korea,” he said.

A North Korean diplomat lashed out at Seoul in response.

“North Korea totally rejects the despicable, irresponsible, impertinent and illogical remarks made by South Korea,” Ju Yong Choi told the conference in Geneva, according to Reuters.

“DPRK has never produced or stockpiled or used chemical weapons and our position is clear. We categorically reject the assumptions and speculations on the incident in Malaysia.”

Military sales

Also on Tuesday, Malaysian authorities said they were aware of two North-Korean controlled companies that, according to a Reuters report, were using a Malaysian front company to sell battlefield radio equipment in violation of U.N. sanctions.

The two companies were being “struck-off” or removed them from a registry of business entities in the country, Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement responding to the Reuters report.

The front company, Glocom, advertised over 30 radio systems for “military and paramilitary” organizations on its Malaysian website, glocom.com.my, Reuters said.

The U.N. has banned Pyongyang from buying or selling military equipment because of its illegal nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile launches, the last of which took place on Feb. 12.

“It has been established by the source of the report that no company by the name of Glocom exists in Malaysia,” the Malaysian statement said.

Two companies connected with the website – one that registered it and one named as its point of contact – “are said to be controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors,” Khalid’s statement said.

It named the companies as International Global System Sdn Bhd and International Golden Services Sdn Bhd. Both were in the process of being “struck-off,” it said.

“The Royal Malaysia Police is constantly monitoring and taking pre-emptive measures to ensure that Malaysia is not being used to carry out any activities that would be detrimental to national security,” the statement said.

“We have also taken all necessary actions to comply with international regulations with regards to related sanctions.”

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

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