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Seoul court approves extradition of woman over children’s bodies found in New Zealand

Woman with hood pulled over her face being escorted by two men from a police station
A 42-year-old South Korean woman, center, is allegedly linked to two children whose dead bodies were found in suitcases in New Zealand.
(Bae Byung-soo / Associated Press)
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A South Korean court has approved the extradition of a 42-year-old woman who faces murder charges in New Zealand over her possible connection to the bodies of two long-dead children found abandoned in suitcases in August.

The Seoul High Court said Friday that its decision came after the unidentified woman agreed in writing to be sent back to New Zealand. The court had previously planned to review her case Monday to determine whether she should be extradited and now says that session is no longer necessary.

With the court approving her extradition, it’s now up to South Korean Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon to make the final call on whether she will be sent to New Zealand. It wasn’t immediately clear how soon that decision would be made.

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Lee Ji-hyeong, an official from the Justice Ministry’s international crimes division, said the ministry would look into various details, including whether the woman’s consent was properly obtained, before Han decided whether to extradite her.

The Justice Ministry last month instructed prosecutors to apply for the extradition review at the court after determining there was “considerable reason” to believe that the suspect committed the crimes.

South Korean police arrested the woman in September based on a domestic warrant that was issued after New Zealand requested her provisional arrest. New Zealand’s Justice Ministry then submitted a formal request for her extradition to the South Korean ministry.

A New Zealand family who bought abandoned goods from a storage unit discovered the remains of two children in two suitcases, police said.

Aug. 18, 2022

New Zealand police said that the South Korean warrant for the suspect’s arrest was in connection with two murder charges and that they requested South Korean authorities keep the woman in jail until she is extradited.

The children’s bodies were discovered in August after a New Zealand family bought abandoned goods, including two suitcases, from a storage unit in an online auction. Police said the family had nothing to do with the deaths. The children were between 5 and 10 years old and had been dead for years, according to police.

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

South Korean police say it was possible she was the mother of the two children, as her past address in New Zealand was registered to the storage unit where the suitcases were kept.

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