KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has expelled its North Korean ambassador over the death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Malaysian authorities on Saturday (Mar 4) declared him persona non grata, expelling him over the diplomatic handling of Kim's death.
"He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6pm, Mar 4, 2017,” Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a press release.
According to the release, Kang had been summoned at 6pm on Saturday to Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but failed to turn up.
"He (Kang Chol) was to have met with Ambassador Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, the Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, today at 6pm. However, neither the Ambassador nor senior officials of the Embassy was in a position to be present at the Ministry," said Anifah.
The ministry then sent a diplomatic note to the North Korean embassy, informing him of the expulsion.
This comes after Kang accused Malaysia of colluding with South Korea to blame North Korea for the death and that the investigation by the Malaysian police was “politically motivated” and he could not trust it.
Kang said that North Korea would not accept the result of the autopsy conducted by Malaysian authorities because it had been done without the presence of North Korean officials. He had also demanded that Malaysia hand over his body to the embassy.
The Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Mr Kang on Tuesday to demand a written apology for the accusations made against Malaysia by the ambassador. Mr Kang was told that if no response was received by 10pm that day, “the Malaysian government would take measures that would best protect its interests”.
“Almost four days have passed since the deadline lapsed. No such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming. For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared persona non grata,” said Anifah. “It should be made clear – Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.”
“It should be recalled that the Ambassador had alleged that the conduct of the investigation into the death of a DPRK citizen on Feb 13, 2017 indicates that the Malaysian government had something to hide and that Malaysia has colluded with outside powers to defame his country," Anifah added.
“Recent events, including the release of Mr Ri Jong Chol, a DPRK national, from police custody for the lack of evidence to charge him, is proof that the investigation is conducted in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, as befits a country that practices the rule of law."
"THEY WILL PAY A HEAVY PRICE"
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur to cease its hard-hitting statements against Malaysia.
"If the rebukes keep coming from the relevant embassy, they will pay a heavy price,” Zahid told reporters.
The expulsion comes following the revocation of visa-free entry for North Koreans.
“The expulsion of the DPRK Ambassador comes at the heels of the decision of the Malaysian government ... that effective on Monday, citizens of the DPRK require visas to enter Malaysia," said Anifah.
“This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities. These measures are part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations with the DPRK.
Investigations have revealed that Kim, 45, was poisoned by two women using a deadly VX nerve agent on Feb 13.
While Malaysia has not held the North Korean government responsible for the death, its authorities have identified and named four North Korean men as the mastermind of Kim’s death, as well as the ones who recruited the two assassins.