Jong-chol: Probe trying to harm Pyongyang
TOKYO: A North Korean suspect in the murder of the half-brother of the country’s leader denounced Malaysia’s probe into the airport assassination as a “conspiracy” to harm Pyongyang, reports said.
Ri Jong-chol, who is among eight North Koreans suspected of involvement in the killing of Kim Jong-nam, made the comments to journalists in Beijing after Malaysia released him citing, insufficient evidence.
The investigation was “a conspiracy to impair the dignity of the Republic (North Korea)”, the 47-year-old said in comments carried in Japanese and South Korean media.
He denied any involvement in the murder, saying police had presented him with “fabricated evidence” and said he would be rewarded with a comfortable life in Malaysia if he confessed.
“But, no way. No matter how good a life it could be, it is still not as good as my own motherland. How could I forget the motherland that raised me and fed me to this point?” television footage broadcast in South Korea showed him as saying.
Ri, the only North Korean detained over the attack, was released and deported two days after two women — one Vietnamese and one Indonesian — were charged with murdering Jong-nam.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had said he was frustrated by Jong-chol’s release and he believed the North Korean had a part in the murder.
Jong-chol is expected to return to Pyongyang from Beijing.
He was arrested days after Jong-nam suffered an agonising death after he was attacked as he waited to board a flight to Macau.
Closed-circuit television camera footage showed two women approaching him and apparently wiping his face with a cloth.
Police said he suffered a seizure and died less than 20 minutes later. Swabs of the man’s face revealed traces of VX.
Ri Jong-chol speaking to reporters from behind a fence at the North Korean embassy in Beijing yesterday.