WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand will go ahead with its first extradition of a resident to China, New Zealand’s justice minister said on Wednesday, after reconsidering its position at the behest of the High Court and maintaining the man should be sent to China.
New Zealand agreed in December to extradite South Korean Kyung Yup Kim, 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.
The drawn-out case and the possibility of more court reviews 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.
That was further underscored on Tuesday when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped questions on extraditions to China, saying Canada would stick to high standards when deciding whether to return Chinese citizens.
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.
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON; Additional reporting by Sue-Lin Wong in BEIJING; Editing by