Dean Purcell / AP
SEOUL, South Korea – A woman was arrested in South Korea on Thursday on two counts of murder from New Zealand, where the bodies of two long-dead children were found last month in abandoned suitcases, authorities said.
Authorities did not immediately say whether the 42-year-old suspect was the mother of the dead child. New Zealand police had previously told their Korean counterparts that the mother might be living in South Korea.
South Korean police said they had detained the woman in the southeastern port city of Ulsan, based on a South Korean court order issued after New Zealand requested her extradition.
The woman remains in South Korea and will undergo a review at the Seoul High Court on whether she should be extradited, said Park Seung-hoon, an official at the National Police Agency. are not. Park said a date has not yet been set but the review must take place within two months.
New Zealand police said the order was linked to two counts of murder, and they had filed a request to extradite the woman under the terms of a treaty between the two countries. They said they have asked South Korean authorities to keep the woman in prison until she is extradited.
“For someone to be detained overseas for such a short period of time requires the support of the South Korean authorities and the coordination of our New Zealand Police Interpol officers.” , Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said in a statement.
He said the investigation had been “very difficult” and investigations were continuing both in New Zealand and abroad.
Vaaelua said police will not comment further as the matter is ongoing in court. Authorities in New Zealand generally do not comment on pending trials to avoid the possibility of influencing the outcome.
The bodies were discovered last month after a New Zealand family purchased abandoned goods, including two suitcases, from a storage unit in Auckland in an online auction. Police said the New Zealand family had nothing to do with the deaths.
The children, aged 5 to 10, have been dead for a number of years, and the suitcases have been stored for at least three or four years, according to police.
South Korean police said the woman was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where she was naturalized. She returned to South Korea in 2018, according to immigration records.
South Korean police said she was suspected of being the mother of two victims, as her previous address in New Zealand was registered to the storage unit where the suitcases were kept for many years.