Woman arrested in S. Korea after bodies found in New Zealand

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A woman from New Zealand was arrested Thursday on two murder charges in South Korea, where the bodies were found. Two long-dead children were found in abandoned suitcases last month, authorities said.

Authorities did not immediately say whether the 42-year-old suspect was the mother of the dead children. New Zealand police have previously told South Korean officials That mother can live in South Korea.

South Korean police detained the woman in the southeastern port city of Ulsan, according to South Korea’s National Police Agency and Ministry of Justice.

The unidentified woman covered her face with the hood of her coat as officers escorted her outside the Ulsan police station and put her in a car bound for the capital Seoul, where she was expected to be questioned by prosecutors.

New Zealand authorities must submit a formal request for his extradition to the South Korean Ministry of Justice within 45 days. The ministry will later decide whether to proceed with an extradition review at the Seoul High Court to decide whether he will be extradited to New Zealand.

New Zealand police said the South Korean warrant was related to two counts of murder, and they have asked South Korean authorities to hold the woman in jail pending her extradition.

“It was thanks to the assistance of the Korean authorities and the coordination of our New Zealand Police Interpol staff that we were able to take someone overseas into custody within such a short period of time,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuya Walua said in a statement.

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He said the investigation was “extremely challenging” and inquiries were continuing in New Zealand and overseas.

Walua said the police would not comment further as the matter is now before the court. Officials in New Zealand generally do not comment on pending court cases to avoid the possibility of influencing the outcome.

The children’s 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 no connection to the death.

The children were between the ages of 5 and 10 and had been dead for several years, and the suitcases had been stored for at least three or four years, police said.

South Korean police said the woman was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where she obtained citizenship. According to immigration records, he returned to South Korea in 2018.

South Korean police say they suspect she may be the mother of the two victims because her past address in New Zealand was recorded in a storage unit where the suitcases had been kept for years.

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Perry reports from Wellington, New Zealand.

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