New Zealand allows extradition to China — Analysis

Beijing has given enough guarantees of fair trial in case of a man accused of murder in China, New Zealand’s top court has ruled

New Zealand’s Supreme Court has ruled on Wednesday that China has been able to provide it with sufficient assurances that a suspect in a murder case it wants extradited would face a fair trial and will not be subjected to torture. New Zealand-based man has been charged with murdering Chinese women more than a decade back.

“If no substantial grounds exist for believing an individual accused is at risk of torture because of the assurances provided, the individual should not avoid prosecution for a serious crime,”The court stated. New Zealand does not have a formal extradition agreement with Beijing. It has also never extradited anyone to China. In 2020, it also stopped its extradition agreement with Hong Kong.

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Kyung Yup (South Korean citizen) is the suspect. This man, who migrated to New Zealand with his family more than thirty years ago when he turned 14, has been named as Kyung Yep Kim. When he was visiting his girlfriend in China, he is charged with the murder of a Shanghai waitress and sex worker.

Kim was taken into custody in 2011. Beijing asked for his extradition. Kim spent five years in New Zealand pre-trial detention and another three under electronic monitoring. Kim is now the longest-serving prisoner of New Zealand history who hasn’t faced a trial.

Kim insists that he is innocent, while his lawyers intend to stop his extradition through a UN Human Rights Committee complaint. They also plan to file a fresh judicial review, pointing to their client’s poor health, which includes severe depression, a small brain tumor as well as liver and kidney disease.

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The lawyers also argue that the New Zealand consulate in Shanghai will not be able to provide sufficient monitoring in this case despite Beijing’s assurances that Kim will be put into custody in Shanghai and potentially serve his sentence there as well if found guilty. Media reports claim that the staff of New Zealand’s consulate would have access to Kim every day except for when he is being tried.

New Zealand’s courts have previously blocked Kim’s extradition, citing the risk of torture and not getting a fair trial. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled 3 to 2 in favor of his extradition, with two judges recusing themselves because they previously sat on the appeals court that ruled against Kim’s extradition.

If the appeals of Kim’s lawyers prove unsuccessful, his extradition would rest with New Zealand’s justice minister, Kris Faafoi, who has not commented on the issue so far.

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