New Zealand ‘suitcase’ murders: suspect to be extradited from South Korea within 30 days

Justice minister approves extradition of woman arrested on suspicion of the murder of two children whose bodies were found in suitcases in Auckland

A woman arrested in connection with the death of two children who were found dead in suitcases in Auckland will be extradited from South Korea within 30 days.

South Korean justice minister Han Dong-hoon issued the order on Monday for the extradition of the woman to New Zealand, the ministry said in a statement.

Han had the final decision on whether to send her to New Zealand, after the Seoul high court on Friday endorsed her extradition, saying that the woman had agreed in writing to be sent back to New Zealand.

The remains of the two young children, who were aged around five to 10 years, were hidden in suitcases for a number of years before an Auckland family unsuspectingly bought the luggage in a storage facility’s online auction. They transported their purchases home before making the discovery and contacting police.

In mid-September, South Korean authorities arrested the woman on a warrant for two charges of murder. In the weeks since, New Zealand’s application for her extradition has been considered by South Korean courts and the justice minister.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed the decision on Tuesday morning. “One of the purposes of these extradition agreements is so that we are able to smooth the path for what otherwise would be very complex situations,” she said in an interview with Newshub.

“This is a tragic set of circumstances in which this extradition is being used, but it’s all about making sure our justice system can operate as we would expect.”

In New Zealand, the identities of the children and other family details remain suppressed. A coroner’s minute released on Monday said the woman may appear in the Manukau district court “soon”, but did not provide an expected date.

As well as ordering the extradition, Han had ordered officials to hand over evidence obtained during the woman’s arrest to New Zealand authorities, the ministry said.

The Justice Ministry and Seoul prosecutors will consult New Zealand authorities on the exact timing of the extradition within the next 30 days, it said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tess McClure in Auckland

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