Woman arrested in S. Korea after bodies found in New Zealand
South Korean police said they detained the woman in the southeastern port city of Ulsan, based on a South Korean court warrant issued after New Zealand requested her extradition.
Park Seung-hoon, an official with the National Police Agency, said the woman remains in South Korea and will review with the Seoul High Court whether she should be extradited. No date has been set yet, but the review should be within two months, Park said.
New Zealand police said the warrant was in relation to two counts of murder, and they had applied for the woman’s extradition under an agreement between the two countries. He said that he has asked the South Korean authorities to keep the woman in jail until her extradition.
“Detaining someone overseas in such a short period of time is all down to the assistance of the Korean authorities and the cooperation of our New Zealand Police Interpol staff,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Famanuya Wailua said in a statement.
He said the investigation was “very challenging” and inquiries were ongoing in New Zealand and overseas.
Wailua said police would not comment further as the matter is now before the courts. Authorities in New Zealand generally do not comment on pending court cases to avoid the possibility of influencing the outcome.
The bodies were discovered last month after a New Zealand family bought abandoned items, including two suitcases, from a storage unit in Auckland at an online auction. Police said the New Zealand family had nothing to do with the deaths.
According to police, the children were between the ages of 5 and 10, had been dead for several years, and the suitcases had been in storage for at least three or four years.
South Korean police say the woman was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand where she acquired citizenship. According to immigration records, she returned to South Korea in 2018.
South Korean police say they suspect she may be the mother of the two victims, as her previous address in New Zealand was registered to a storage unit where the suitcases had been kept for years.
Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.