Suitcase murder suspect extradited from South Korea appears in New Zealand court

The woman at Ulsan Central Police Station in South Korea after getting arrested on Sept 15, 2022. She has been remanded in custody in New Zealand until her next court appearance. PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON – A 42-year-old mother extradited from South Korea appeared before a New Zealand court for the first time on Wednesday, facing murder charges after the remains of her two children were found in suitcases in Auckland.

Wearing a beige jacket and black T-shirt, the woman appeared briefly at the Manukau District Court, south Auckland, a day after landing in New Zealand.

Court suppression orders bar the media from naming the woman or her deceased children. But Judge Gus Andrée Wiltens allowed reporting of the fact that she is their mother.

The suspect, who faces two counts of murder, was remanded in custody without making a plea until her next appearance at the Auckland High Court on Dec 14.

Through an interpreter, she asked to address the judge, but her own lawyer stepped in saying: “I think it would be best if perhaps she didn’t.”

The judge agreed and the defendant was led out of court.

The hearing took place less than 24 hours after the defendant flew into Auckland airport under police escort after being extradited from South Korea.

She was arrested by Korean police in the port city of Ulsan in September, a month after New Zealand police discovered the remains of her two children, aged between five and 10.

At the time of her arrest, the suspect repeatedly told reporters “I didn’t do it”, as she was led into a police vehicle.

The children’s bodies were found after an unsuspecting family bought the suitcases at an online auction of abandoned goods.

New Zealand police have said the bodies were likely in storage for several years, which complicated the investigation.

The authorities have stressed that the family who found the bodies were not connected to the homicides and have been given counselling to help deal with the trauma. AFP

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