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Court questions China extradition decision

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/07/2016

China's first attempt to extradite someone from New Zealand, to face a murder charge in Shanghai, has hit a hurdle after a High Court judge ordered the justice minister to reconsider her decision.

Korean-born New Zealand resident Kyung Yup Kim is suspected of the murder of 20-year-old prostitute Pei Yun Chen in Shanghai, after her beaten body was found wrapped in black cloth in a local wasteland in 2009.

He had been in Shanghai at the time, visiting his girlfriend Jiaqin Li, but returned to New Zealand in 2010. China requested his extradition the following year.

He denies the murder charge and has said his girlfriend may have been involved in the death.

Last year Justice Minister Amy Adams decided Kim could be extradited to China after seeking assurances he wouldn't face the death penalty.

However, Kim has now partially succeeded in appealing Ms Adams' decision in the High Court.

In judgments released this week, Justice Jillian Mallon declined to discharge the extradition but says the minister must revisit her conclusion.

Justice Mallon noted the minister had not revealed why she believed Kim's safety or rights would be protected in China.

China had not committed to international human rights treaties and there was evidence China was still using ill-treatment and torture to extract confessions, she said.

China had also not assured Kim would have a lawyer present during pre-trial interrogation but that they would be recorded and given to New Zealand authorities.

Responding to the ruling, Ms Adams said the government was still deciding whether it would appeal the case or reconsider the extradition as ordered.

"We haven't made any final decisions yet. The decision's just come through," she said.

Kim has been held in Mt Eden prison since 2011 and refused bail because he was considered a flight risk.

Ms Adams said she had tried to keep the case moving as quickly as possible, but understood the cautiousness by the court.

"On one hand, under the legislation I am required to make a decision in a timely matter and as quickly as possible. On the other hand, the judge has asked me to go back and take more time to go through it more carefully," she said.

"I completely understand the concern that we have to make sure the decision is right and unfortunately that does take a period of time."

Asked if she trusted the advice given by the Chinese government, Ms Adams said she only made decisions based on "reputable and thoroughly researched information".

Kim, who moved to New Zealand when he was 14, is in his 40s and has two teenaged children who live with their grandparents in New Zealand.

He and his lawyer Tony Ellis have mounted multiple legal challenges to put a halt to his extradition.

New Zealand does not have a bilateral extradition treaty with China and any removal must be considered by the justice minister.

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