South Korea extradites suspect in New Zealand suitcase murders

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has extradited a 42-year-old woman to New Zealand, two months after she was arrested following the discovery of the bodies of two long-dead children in abandoned suitcases.

New Zealand police said the woman arrived at Auckland airport on Tuesday after three officers were dispatched to South Korea to bring her back.

They said he will remain in jail overnight and will appear in Manukau District Court on Wednesday, where he will face two counts of murder.

The case horrified many people in New Zealand after the bodies of the children were discovered in August when an Auckland family bought abandoned items, including two suitcases, from a storage unit at an online auction.

“The investigation team would like to acknowledge the assistance of agencies in both New Zealand and South Korea, which has meant that we have been able to bring an alleged offender to court,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said in a statement. release.

South Korea’s Justice Ministry said the unidentified woman was handed over to New Zealand authorities Monday night at Incheon International Airport near Seoul. The ministry said it also provided New Zealand with unspecified “important evidence” in the case.

“With the extradition, we hope that the truth of the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, will be revealed through New Zealand’s strict and fair judicial process,” he said in a statement.

South Korea’s Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon issued an extradition order for the woman earlier this month. The Seoul High Court had previously granted approval for her extradition after she had given her written consent to be sent back to New Zealand.

South Korean police arrested the woman in a southern port city in September, based on a court order issued after New Zealand requested her provisional arrest. The New Zealand Ministry of Justice then submitted a formal extradition request to the South Korean ministry.

New Zealand police said the suspect’s South Korean arrest warrant was linked to two counts of murder.

The children were between the ages of 5 and 10, had been dead for years and the suitcases had been stored in Auckland for at least three to four years, according to New Zealand police.

South Korean police say the woman was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where she obtained citizenship. Immigration records show that she returned to South Korea in 2018.

South Korean police have said that she is suspected of being the mother of the two victims, as her previous address in New Zealand was registered in the storage unit where the suitcases were kept. A New Zealand coroner has issued a temporary order preventing the publication of the names of the two victims.