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S. Korea rejects N.K. claim over collusion with Malaysia on Kim's death

2017/02/21 11:47

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry on Tuesday rejected North Korea's claim that Malaysia colluded with Seoul in investigating the death of the half brother of the North's leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korean top envoy to Malaysia Kang Chol denounced Malaysia's probe results showing that at least five North Korean suspects were allegedly involved in last week's death of Kim Jong-nam.

He accused Malaysia of "colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces," in its probe, referring to South Korea.

The Ministry of Unification flatly rejected Kang's claim, calling it "preposterous and sophistic."

   "The envoy's comment on South Korea is a preposterous claim that is not even worth countering," a ministry official said.

A diplomatic row is deepening between North Korea and Malaysia over the death of Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of late former leader Kim Jong-il and the estranged half brother of Kim Jong-un.

Kim was killed last week at an airport in Malaysia after being attacked by two Asian women with what appears to be poisonous substances.

Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that its government viewed the criticism by Kang as "baseless."

   "The Malaysian government takes very seriously any unfounded attempt to tarnish its reputation," the statement showed.

Malaysian police arrested Ri Jong-chol, a 46-year-old North Korean man, in connection with the death of Kim Jong-nam on Friday following the arrest of three others, including the two Asian women.

The police said they are searching for four more North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the same day of Kim's death.

South Korea said that it is highly likely that the North Korean regime is behind the latest killing, given Pyongyang's track record of committing terrorist attacks and inhumane acts.

Foreign media reports said that a second autopsy on Kim's body could come out as early as Wednesday as medical examiners could not find the exact cause of his death via their first autopsy.

North Korean Ambassador Kang said last week that North Korea won't accept the result of the autopsy as it was performed without Pyongyang officials in attendance.

He demanded that Malaysia immediately hand over the body, but Malaysian police said Sunday they would give two weeks to Kim's next of kin to claim it.

Foreign media reports said that Kim Han-sol, the son of the murdered Kim, may have arrived in Malaysia on Monday from Macau, where Kim's mother and his sister Kim Sol-hui were hiding presumably under China's protection, but his arrival has yet to be confirmed.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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