In 2015 then Justice Minister Amy Adams approved a Chinese Government’s extradition request, their first ever to New Zealand. This pertained to Korean born male Kyung Yup Kim, who moved to New Zealand when 14 and presumably is now a New Zealand citizen.
The Chinese Government accuse him of first beating, then murdering a 20 year old prostitute while holidaying in Shanghai in 2009.
Amy Adam’s decision has now been over-turned by the Court of Appeal. The Court has ruled that her successor, Justice Minister Andrew Little, must determine whether he can accept the Chinese Embassy’s assurance of a fair trial, no torturing, execution and so on. The short answer given the Chinese well-known form, is that he can’t. It is precisely these concerns why tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens are currently marching in protest, specifically the proposed Hong Kong Constitutional change allowing extradition to China for trials there.
That said, this is a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs if Kim is in fact guilty, for this all too common crime world-wide. The odds are that he is guilty or the Chinese would not be pursuing him so hard. Presumably, as he’s been here so long he’s a fluent English-speaker. If the Chinese were invited to send English-speaking police to interview him here in the presence of our police he would probably on legal advice, stay silent.
But what if the Chinese paid for a senior New Zealand police officer to travel to China and attend all interrogations and that it be agreed that he can determine in what he witnessed and heard whether Kim should be charged? If Kim stays silent, then he’s charged. But that doesn’t satisfy the fair trial qualification.
The easy answer is, assuming the Hong Kong government is receptive which one suspects given the current carry-on they might be, is to transfer the trial to Hong Kong. There he will receive a fair trial. Then what? If the Chinese promise no execution if found guilty then he can serve his sentence on the mainland.
In my view it befalls Andrew Little to pull out all stops as it’s outrageous that anyone should get away with murder, assuming of course Kim is guilty.
Not too long ago we resorted to London for advice on these tricky international judicial questions. Those days are gone but if we did, they’d almost certainly not trust the Chinese legal system for damn good reasons.
Curiously, on my observation in China the Police have a very low profile and seem ultra-polite. Once when there I read in an English version Beijing newspaper, an item in which the Police were imploring the public to stop being rude to them as many were going home at night in a distressed state at being insulted and abused by the public all day.
It’s what goes on with prosecutions that is the concern, but the Hong Kong proposition offers a possible solution.