Jong-chol: Probe try­ing to harm Py­ongyang

New Straits Times - - News -

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.

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