On Saturday, Malaysia threatened to issue an arrest warrant against a North Korean diplomat if he refuses to cooperate with the investigation into the assassination of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un’s exiled half brother, Kim Jong-Nam.
The high profile assassination which took place at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, has led to a serious diplomatic fight between Malaysia and North Korea.
Earlier in the week, Malaysia had said that Hyon Kwang Song, a second secretary at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, was wanted for questioning. But authorities at the time acknowledged that he has diplomatic immunity and that they couldn’t compel him to appear.
Abdul Samah Mat, the Malaysian cop who is leading the investigations said that the diplomat has been given a “reasonable” time to come forward. If that doesn’t work, the police will issue a notice compelling him to turn up for questioning.
“And if he failed to turn up … then we will go to the next step by getting a warrant of arrest from the court,” Abdul Samah told reporters.
But lawyers believe the diplomat will have immunity even in criminal cases, the arrest warrant can be set aside.
So far, Malaysia hasn’t directly accused the North Korean government of being behind the attack, but officials have said four North Korean men provided two women with poison to carry it out.
North Korea has denied any role in the attack but South Korea has continued to maintain that North Korea sponsored the killing.
Malaysian police has revealed that the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim Jong-Nam.
Experts say the nerve agent used in the attack was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory and is banned under an international treaty. But North Korea never signed that treaty, and has spent decades developing a complex chemical weapons program.
Kim Jong-Nam was not an obvious political threat to his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Un. But he may have been seen as a potential rival in North Korea’s dynastic dictatorship, even though he had lived in exile for years.
(With inputs from agencies)