North Korea lashes Malaysia over Kim assassination

Seoul (AFP) - North Korea?s state media broke a 10-day silence Thursday on the murder of Kim Jong-Un?s half brother, launching a ferocious assault on Malaysia for ?immoral? handling of the case and for playing politics with the corpse.

In its first comments on the airport assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, KCNA said Malaysia bore responsibility for the death, and accused it of conspiring with South Korea.

"Malaysia is obliged to hand his body to the DPRK (North Korea) side as it made an autopsy and forensic examination of it in an illegal and immoral manner", the North's Korean Jurists Committee said, in comments carried by the state-run news agency.

Malaysia has not released the corpse "under the absurd pretext" that it needs a DNA sample from the dead man's family, it said.

"This proves that the Malaysian side is going to politicise the transfer of the body in utter disregard of international law and morality and thus attain a sinister purpose," it said.

Throughout its lengthy dispatch, KCNA avoided any reference to the dead man's identity, calling him only "a citizen of the DPRK bearing a diplomatic passport".

North Korea has never acknowledged him as the estranged brother of its leader.

Leaked CCTV footage from the brazen attack last Monday shows the portly Kim being approached by two women who appear to put something in his face.

Moments later he is seen asking for help from airport staff, who direct him to a clinic.

Malaysian police said he suffered a seizure and died before he reached hospital.

An autopsy has ruled out heart failure, with investigators focusing on the theory that a toxin was applied to his face, in what South Korea has insisted was a targeted assassination.

Malaysian detectives are holding three people -- women from Indonesia and Vietnam, and a North Korean man -- but want to speak to seven others, including diplomat Hyon Kwang Song.

But Malaysia's top policeman acknowledged Thursday that unless Hyon, second secretary at the North Korean mission, volunteers himself, they will be unable to speak to him.

"We will adhere to the rules of immunity," Khalid Abu Bakar said. "We cannot go inside the embassy."

- 'Wild rumours' -

Malaysian police think four North Korean suspects may have fled to Pyongyang immediately after the killing.

A small group of protesters descended on North Korea's embassy Thursday, with many carrying signs reading "Respect Malaysia".

Demonstrators from the youth wing of Malaysia's ruling party handed in a letter to diplomats denouncing Pyongyang's "impermissible attitude and rudeness" and urging the North "to reconsider its aggressive approach".

It was reported Thursday South Korea is using giant loudspeakers to blast news of the dramatic assassination across the border with its reclusive northern neighbour.

Seoul employed its banks of high-decibel loudspeakers to ensure details of the death of Jong-Nam, once believed to be the North's likely heir, reverberated through the border area, Seoul's MBC TV station said.

"Kim Jong-Nam... died after being attacked by two unidentified women at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia," blared the message.

News of the outside world is heavily restricted and censored in the North under the Kim family, which has ruled for decades with an iron fist and pervasive personality cult.

Seoul's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said Wednesday in London the assassination by the North, if confirmed, would constitute a "serious breach" of international order and would be regarded as a "state-led act of terrorism".

Pyongyang's statement, issued in both English and Korean, repeated the North's demand for a joint investigation, stressing it was ready to dispatch a delegation.

It said Malaysia had initially claimed the death was from heart failure, and blamed the poisoning theory on "wild rumours" from South Korean media.

"The biggest responsibility for his death rests with the government of Malaysia as the citizen of the DPRK died in its land," KCNA said.

"The unfriendly attitude of the Malaysian side found a more striking manifestation in the matter of transferring his body to the DPRK side.

"The DPRK... will watch the future attitude of the Malaysian side."