New Zealand ‘suitcase’ murders: South Korea suspect denies charges | New Zealand

A woman arrested over the alleged murder of two children whose bodies were discovered in suitcases in New Zealand has denied the charges as she left a police station in South Korea.

In response to every question on Thursday as she was transferred by police from the city of Ulsan to Seoul, the woman gave the same answer: “I didn’t do it.”

New Zealand has applied to extradite the Korean-born 42-year-old suspect in connection with the discovery of the bodies of two children, aged about five and 10, inside suitcases in a storage facility in Auckland on 11 August. Police said at the time they estimated the children’s remains had been there for three or four years.

Given that the suspect is a citizen of New Zealand and the treaty between the two countries, the South Korean government is likely to promptly extradite her, Lee Soo-jung, a professor of forensic psychology at Kyonggi University in Seoul, told broadcaster YTN.

The suspect will next undergo a review at the Seoul high court over whether she should be extradited, said Park Seung-hoon, an official at the National Police Agency said on Wednesday. Park said a date hadn’t yet been set but the review must take place within two months.

Meanwhile, authorities in South Korea and New Zealand are now working to determine the facts of the years-old case, which came to light when a buyer purchased the used suitcases online and discovered the children’s remains.

Local media in South Korea reported that, after receiving a request from Interpol and police in New Zealand, South Korean police were able to find the suspect by tracking her phone activity and medical records, and through analysis of CCTV footage near the building where she was reportedly staying with an acquaintance.

Authorities say the suspect, whose name has been withheld, left New Zealand for South Korea in 2018 after having acquired New Zealand citizenship.

The arrest this week was the result of cooperation between Interpol and the police forces in the two countries. South Korea’s Ministry of Justice confirmed in a press release that the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office had detained the woman on Thursday on suspicion of murder and carried out a search of her residence.

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