North Korea will “categorically reject” the results of a post-mortem on Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of the country’s ruler, its ambassador in Malaysia said.
He died this week at an airport in Kuala Lumpur and the case is snowballing into a diplomatic crisis.
North Korean ambassador Kang Chol told reporters gathered outside the morgue in Kuala Lumpur on Friday night that Malaysia conducted the post-mortem “unilaterally” and prevented North Korean representatives from attending.
He said North Korea “will categorically reject” the results and said the move disregarded “elementary international laws and consular laws”.
The case has unleashed a rash of speculation that Kim Jong Nam was killed on the orders of his half-brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang’s ambassador said Malaysian officials may be “trying to conceal something” and “colluding with hostile forces”.
Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46 and had lived in exile for years, suddenly fell ill at the airport on Monday as he waited for a flight home to Macau.
Dizzy and in pain, he told medical workers at the airport he had been sprayed with a chemical. He died while being taken to hospital.
Mr Kang said the fact that Malaysia has yet to hand over the body “strongly suggests that the Malaysian side is trying to conceal something which needs more time and deceive us, and that they are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us”.
South Korea has accused its enemies in North Korea of dispatching a hit squad to kill Kim Jong Nam at the airport, saying two female assassins poisoned him and then fled in a taxi.
North Korean diplomats in Malaysia objected to the post-mortem and had requested custody of Kim Jong Nam’s body, arguing that he had a North Korean passport.
Malaysian authorities went ahead with the procedure anyway, saying they did not receive a formal complaint.
Malaysia said on Friday it wants DNA samples from Kim Jong Nam’s family as part of the post-mortem procedure and that officials were not yet willing to hand the body over to the North Koreans.
Although Kim Jong Nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, police in Malaysia say none have come forward to claim the body or provide DNA samples.
“If there is no claim by next-of-kin and upon exhausting all avenues (to obtain DNA), we will finally then hand over the body to the (North Korean) embassy,” said Abdul Samah Mat, a senior Malaysian police official. He would not say how long that process might take.
Malaysian police have arrested three people in the investigation but have released few details.
On Friday, Indonesia’s national police chief said the Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the death was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank.
The police chief, Tito Karnavian, said he was citing information received from Malaysian authorities.
Mr Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in Just For Laughs-style pranks, a reference to a popular hidden camera show.
He said she and another woman performed stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.
“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong Nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Mr Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”
Mr Karnavian’s comments come after a male relative of Aisyah said in an Indonesian television interview that she had been hired to perform in a short comedy movie and travelled to China as part of this work. Indonesian immigration has said Aisyah travelled to Malaysia and other countries it did not specify.
Investigators were still trying to piece together details of the case, and South Korea has not said how it concluded that North Korea was behind the killing.
Malaysian police were questioning three suspects – Aisyah, another woman who carried a Vietnamese passport, and a man they said is Aisyah’s boyfriend.
Kim Jong Nam was estranged from his younger half brother Kim Jong Un. He reportedly fell out of favour with their father, the late Kim Jong Il, in 2001, when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist who wrote a book about Kim Jong Nam, said he criticised the family regime and believed a leader should be chosen “through a democratic process”.