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DPM: Ambassador's expulsion a 'strong message' to N. Korea

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's decision to expel North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was to safeguard the nation's integrity, says the Deputy Prime Minister.

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) said the decision came from the Cabinet and was aimed at sending a strong and clear message to the North Korean government not to manipulate Malaysia's investigations into the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

"The statements by the ambassador were obviously aimed at manipulating the matter," Dr Ahmad Zahid, the Home Minister and also Umno deputy president, said after meeting party leaders and members here Sunday.

He said Malaysian authorities had carried out painstaking investigations into Jong-nam's assassination.

"We have been professional in our probe in terms of interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, whether it was DNA samples or CCTV footage," said Dr Ahmad Zahid.

On Saturday, Wisma Putra informed the North Korean Embassy that Kang must leave Malaysia by Monday, March 6.

The move came after the ambassador, who was summoned to Wisma Putra at 6pm Saturday, failed to turn up.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the Malaysian Government had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the ambassador's recent accusations against the country over Jong-nam's assassination.

That demand, he said, had been made during a meeting between Wisma Putra officials and a high-level delegation led by former North Korean ambassador to the United Nations Ri Tong-il who arrived on Feb 28.

Jong-nam, the elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) departure hall on Feb 13, which what Malaysian police said was the VX nerve agent.

On March 1, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were charged with the murder, under Section 302 of the Penal Code that carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

Neither recorded a plea, and April 13 has been fixed for mention.

North Korea has criticised Malaysia's handling of the case, threatening a diplomatic row between the two countries.

On March 2, the Malaysian Government announced that North Koreans would no longer enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia from March 6 onwards.

Kim Jong nam , North Korea , Malaysia