Malaysia orders all N. Korean diplomatic staff to leave country within 48 hours

PUTRAJAYA: The government will order all diplomatic staff of the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur and their dependents to leave Malaysia within 48 hours, says Wisma Putra.

It said the government was now compelled by the North Korean government's decision to close the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang, whose operations had been suspended since 2017.

Wisma Putra also pointed out that Malaysia had ensured that the extradition of North Korean national Mun Chol-myong was conducted according to the principles of justice, rule of law and independence of judiciary.

The statement on Friday (March 19) said the extradition was only carried out after the due legal process had been exhausted and that the rights of Mun while in custody were also guaranteed and fulfilled, including his access to his own defence counsel, as well as to consular assistance and visits by his family.

"The government of Malaysia had to put aside a series of Democratic People's Republic of Korea's demarches for the Malaysian executive to intervene in our judiciary and legal system," it said in response to North Korea's decision to sever ties with Malaysia.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Mun was detained by the Malaysian authority on May 14,2019 pursuant to the provisional arrest warrant issued under Section 13(1)(b) of the Extradition Act 1992 following allegations of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering, as well as violating United Nations sanctions.

Such acts are also offences under the laws of Malaysia.

He appeared before the Sessions Court of Kuala Lumpur on Dec 13,2019 which allowed a committal against him.

His application for the writ of habeas corpus at the High Court of Kuala Lumpur on Dec 29,2019 and his appeal at the Federal Court on Oct 8,2020 were dismissed, as the courts found that his application and appeal were unjustified and failed to meet the requirements under the Extradition Act.

Wisma Putra also said that Malaysia regretted North Korea's decision to sever diplomatic ties with Malaysia.

"Malaysia denounces the decision as unfriendly and unconstructive, disrespecting the spirit of mutual respect and good neighbourly relations among members of the international community.

"Malaysia had always considered the DPRK as a close partner since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1973.

"Malaysia was among the earliest to have done so, and continued to support the DPRK during their difficult times. Malaysia had been persistent in pursuing concrete efforts to strengthen our relations with the DPRK even after the deplorable assassination of Kim Jong-nam in 2017.

"In this respect, the DPRK's unilateral decision is clearly unwarranted, disproportionate and certainly disruptive towards the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity of our region," said the statement.

Earlier, North Korea said it would sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a court there ruled that a North Korean man could be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, state media KCNA reported on Friday (March 19).

North Korea's foreign affairs ministry also warned Washington would "pay a price", in a statement carried by KCNA.

On March 9, Malaysia's court ruled that a North Korean man, Mun Chol-myong, could be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, according to media reports.

Mun was arrested in 2019 after the United States accused him of laundering funds through front companies and issuing fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to North Korea. He fought the extradition request, arguing that it was politically motivated.

The ministry called the extradition a "nefarious act and unpardonably heavy crime" by Malaysian authorities, who had "offered our citizen as a sacrifice of the US hostile move in defiance of the acknowledged international laws."

Malaysia's actions had destroyed "the entire foundation of the bilateral relations based on the respect for sovereignty," it said.

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