Malaysia has expelled North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol after he criticized the country’s investigation into the killing of Kim Jong-nam.
Ambassador Kang Chol must leave within 48 hours, Malaysia’s foreign ministry says.
Malaysia demanded an apology after the ambassador said North Korea could not trust its handling of the probe, but says it did not receive one.
Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, died on February 13 at a Kuala Lumpur airport.
Malaysia has not directly blamed North Korea for the attack, in which two women smeared the nerve agent VX on Kim Jong-nam’s face. However, there is widespread suspicion North Korea was responsible.
Kang Chol, who had become a fierce critic of Malaysia, said the probe into the killing had become “politicized” and was being interfered with.
The foreign minister declared the ambassador “persona non grata”, and said his country had demanded an apology for the comments, but this was not forthcoming.
Anifah Aman said in a statement: “Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.”
Ambassador Kang Chol also failed to turn up for a meeting at the Malaysian foreign ministry on March 4, he added.
Malaysia is seeking to question several North Koreans, including an embassy official, over the death of Kim Jong-nam.
Two women, one from Vietnam another from Indonesia, have been charged with murder. They both said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank, but are yet to make a formal plea in their case.
The expulsion of the North Korean ambassador also comes after the Malaysian government announced an investigation into a company called Glocom, which has been operating in Malaysia for several years.
According to a confidential United Nations report, Glocom is run by North Korea’s top intelligence agency to sell military communications equipment, in violation of UN sanctions.
Malaysia was one of very few countries that had relatively friendly relations with North Korea.
However, it canceled visa-free travel for visiting North Koreans in the wake of the killing, citing security reasons. It had already recalled its ambassador in Pyongyang as it investigated the case.
North Korea has not yet confirmed that the body is that of Kim Jong-nam, acknowledging him only as a North Korean citizen.
Kim Jong-nam was traveling using a passport under a different name.