WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a man challenging the government’s decision to extradite him to China in the first case of its kind for the Pacific nation.
New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams had twice ordered that South Korean-born New Zealand resident Kyung Yup Kim could be sent to China to face murder charges, and both times Kim had appealed against the decision in the High Court.
Kim has denied the murder accusation, according to court documents.
Judge Jillian Mallon, who had accepted Kim’s first appeal last year, said that when Adams reconsidered she had sought extra information that allowed her to conclude Kim’s rights would be protected in China.
A lawyer for Kim told the High Court in April that New Zealand’s government could not rely on assurances from China that the man would not be tortured or receive the death penalty.
New Zealand agreed in December 2015 to extradite Kim to Shanghai on murder charges after the body of a 20-year-old woman, who had been strangled, was found in a Shanghai field in 2009.
China’s first extradition request to New Zealand comes as it is trying to drum up international support for returning to China corruption suspects who have gone abroad.
China has struggled to enlist Western countries in its efforts, with many proving reluctant to sign extradition treaties with China, pointing to its poor rights record and opaque criminal prosecution process.
Kim can appeal again.
His lawyer, Tony Ellis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but earlier this year he told Reuters his client would likely continue to appeal the decision.
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Robert Birsel