The woman believed to be the mother of two long-dead children whose bodies were discovered inside abandoned suitcases has been extradited from South Korea to face murder charges in New Zealand.
New Zealand police said the 42-year-old woman, identified only by her last name, Lee, arrived at Auckland Airport in the company of three police officers on Tuesday, two months after she was arrested in South Korea.
They said Lee will be arrested overnight and is due to appear in Manukau District Court on Wednesday, where he will face two counts of murder.
The case shocked all of New Zealand after the children’s remains were discovered in August by an unsuspecting Auckland family who had bought abandoned goods at an online auction for a storage unit.
“The investigation team would like to thank the assistance of the New Zealand and South Korean agencies, which means that we have successfully brought an alleged offender to court,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said in a statement.
South Korea’s Ministry of Justice said Lee was handed over to New Zealand authorities late on Monday at Incheon International Airport, near Seoul. The ministry said it had also provided New Zealand with unspecified “important evidence” in the case.
“With the extradition, we hope that the truth of the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, will be revealed through New Zealand’s fair and rigorous judicial process,” it said in a statement.
South Korean Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon issued an order for Lee’s extradition earlier this month. The Seoul High Court had previously granted her extradition approval after she expressed her written consent to be sent back to New Zealand.
South Korean Yonhap news agency reported that local police arrested Lee in the port city of Ulsan in September based on a domestic court warrant issued after New Zealand requested his provisional arrest. The New Zealand Ministry of Justice has filed a formal extradition request with the South Korean ministry.
The children in the suitcases were between 5 and 10 years old, had been dead for years and the suitcases had been stored in Auckland for at least three or four years, according to New Zealand police.
South Korean police say Lee was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where he obtained citizenship. Immigration records show that she returned to South Korea in 2018.
South Korean police said they suspected she might be the mother of the two victims, as her previous address in New Zealand was registered in the storage unit where the bags were kept.
with postal wires