By NICK PERRY and KIM TONG-HYUNG, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A woman was arrested Thursday in South Korea for two murders in New Zealand, where the bodies of two long-dead children were found last month in abandoned suitcases, officials said. authorities.
Authorities did not immediately say whether the 42-year-old suspect was the mother of the deceased children. New Zealand police had previously told their South Korean counterparts that the mother may be living in South Korea.
South Korean police said they detained the woman in the southeastern port city of Ulsan on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a South Korean court after New Zealand requested his extradition.
The unidentified woman covered her face with the hood of her coat as officers escorted her outside a police station in Ulsan and put her in a car bound for the capital, Seoul.
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She will face a review at the Seoul High Court to see if she should be extradited, said Park Seung-hoon, an official with the National Police Agency. Park said no date has yet been set but the review is expected to take place within two months.
New Zealand police said the warrant related to two murder charges and sought the woman’s extradition under the terms of a treaty between the two nations. They said they asked South Korean authorities to keep the woman in jail until she is extradited.
“To have someone in overseas custody in such a short period of time, it’s all down to the help of the Korean authorities and the coordination of our New Zealand Police Interpol staff,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said in a statement.
He said the investigation had been “very difficult” and that inquiries were continuing in New Zealand and overseas.
Vaaelua said the police were not going to comment further as the matter was now before the courts. New Zealand authorities generally do not comment on ongoing court cases to avoid the possibility of influencing the outcome.
The bodies were discovered last month after a New Zealand family bought abandoned possessions, including two suitcases, from a storage unit in Auckland during an online auction. Police said the New Zealand family had nothing to do with the deaths.
The children were between 5 and 10 years old, had been dead for several years and the suitcases had been stored for at least three or four years, according to the police.
According to South Korean police, the woman was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where she was granted citizenship. She returned to South Korea in 2018, according to immigration records.
South Korean police said they suspected she might be the mother of the two victims, as her old address in New Zealand was recorded in the storage unit where the suitcases were kept for years.
Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.
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