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 officers Tuesday, two months after she was arrested in South Korea.
They said Lee will be jailed overnight and is to appear Wednesday at Manukau District Court, where she will face two murder charges.
The case sent shockwaves through New Zealand after the children’s remains were discovered in August by an unsuspecting Auckland family who had bought abandoned goods in an online auction for a storage unit.
Lee, center, will appear in Auckland court Wednesday to faces counts of murder. AP
An Auckland family bought the suitcases containing the bodies at a storage locker auction, not knowing what was inside.AP
“The investigation team would like to acknowledge the assistance from agencies both in New Zealand and South Korea, which has meant we have been able to put an alleged offender before the court,” Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said in a statement.
South Korea’s Justice Ministry said Lee was handed over to New Zealand authorities Monday evening at the Incheon international airport near Seoul. The ministry said it also provided New Zealand with unspecified “important evidence” in the case.
“With the extradition, we hope that the truth of the case, which has garnered worldwide attention, will be revealed through the fair and strict judicial process of New Zealand,” it said in a statement.
The kids in the suitcases were between 5 and 10 years old and had been dead for years.AP
South Korean Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon issued an order for Lee’s extradition earlier this month. The Seoul High Court had earlier granted approval of her extradition after she expressed her consent in writing to be sent back to New Zealand.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap 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 her provisional arrest. New Zealand’s Justice Ministry then submitted a formal request for her extradition to 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 in storage in Auckland for at least three or four years, according to New Zealand police.
Auckland authorities said the family that bought the suitcases at an auction had nothing to do with the children’s deaths. via REUTERS
South Korean police say Lee was born in South Korea and later moved to New Zealand, where she gained citizenship. Immigration records show she returned to South Korea in 2018.
South Korean police have said it was suspected she could be the mother of the two victims, as her past address in New Zealand was registered to the storage unit where the suitcases were kept.
With Post wires