19 July 2019
Justice Minister Kay Adams said she has decided that Kim  Kyung-yup should be surrendered to China. Photo: Radio NZ
Justice Minister Kay Adams said she has decided that Kim Kyung-yup should be surrendered to China. Photo: Radio NZ

New Zealand approves first extradition to China

New Zealand will go ahead with its first extradition of a resident to China, the justice minister says.

The drawn-out case has highlighted the hurdles China faces as it seeks to drum up international cooperation in a campaign to track down corruption suspects who have fled overseas, Reuters reports.

New Zealand agreed in December to extradite South Korean Kim Kyung-yup, who is a New Zealand resident, to China to face charges for the murder of a woman in Shanghai.

The high court later ordered the government to reconsider its decision because of concern Kim might not be protected from ill-treatment and given the right to silence before a trial.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said via an email from her spokesman that she had considered the high court’s ruling and had decided that Kim should be surrendered to China.

Kim denies the murder charge, according to court documents, and his lawyer, Tony Ellis, told the high court this week that Kim intended to keep fighting the case up to the Supreme Court.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily briefing on Wednesday that Kim’s extradition “serves the common interests of China, New Zealand and other countries that cooperate with China in this way”.

“We hope and are confident that on the basis of mutual respect we will continue to cooperate in the administration and enforcement of the law,” Kang said.

China has pushed for an extradition treaty with New Zealand since 2014.

In April, on a visit to Beijing, Prime Minister John Key said an extradition treaty was “possible”, as long as people did not face torture or the death penalty.

The high court also ruled on Wednesday that Kim, who has spent the past five years in an Auckland prison while the extradition proceedings went on, should be allowed out on bail.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped questions on possible extraditions to China, saying his government will stick to high standards when deciding whether to return Chinese citizens.

A statement posted on Trudeau’s website on Tuesday said his national security adviser went to Beijing last week and agreed to start talks about an extradition treaty as part of a security dialogue.

China, which wants the return of officials suspected of corruption who it says are hiding in Canada, has long pressed for such a treaty.

Some Western countries are reluctant to sign extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners.

Some people convicted of corruption face the death penalty. Canada refuses to send people to countries without assurances they will not be executed.

“Extradition is certainly one of the things the Chinese have indicated they want to talk about,” Trudeau told a televised news conference at the United Nations.

“As everyone knows, Canada has very high standards in terms of extradition treaties in accordance with our values. But we’re happy to have a high-level security dialogue,” he said.

News of the Beijing meeting revived speculation Ottawa had made concessions to secure the return of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian citizen convicted of spying, whom China deported last week.

Canadian officials insist there was no deal.

Garratt’s release was widely seen as a triumph for Trudeau, who visited Beijing earlier this month in a bid to seal closer economic ties.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Canada on Wednesday for the start of a three-day trip.

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