October 3, 2022

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An expert on international policing says New Zealand police could send an officer to Korea to assist with the murder investigation into the two children found in suitcases in Auckland.

Police are refusing to comment on any aspect of the case, as the investigation drags on two weeks after the bodies of the children were found at a home in suburban Clendon Park after being unwittingly bought at a storage unit auction.

Korean media reported New Zealand police have asked South Korea’s National Police Agency, through Interpol, to help them find a woman related to the case, who is believed to be the victims’ mother.

Suitcase bodies
Police set up a cordon on Moncrieff Avenue in Clendon Park after the discovery of two bodies. (David White/Stuff)

But NZ police are yet to confirm the Korea link.

Contact with Interpol was one of the few details police provided to the public at a press conference on Thursday last week.

And while the word “Interpol” might summon images of a romantic international policing force out of a ’60s French spy flick, or a James Bond film, the reality is very different.

Garth den Heyer, a professor of policing at Arizona State University, said Interpol’s main job was now to run formal communication between countries’ police forces and the “framework” behind a search.

Suitcase bodies
Police and forensic experts load the two bodies into vehicle at Moncrieff Avenue in Clendon Park. (Rayssa Almeida/RNZ)

“Years ago when it [Interpol] was formed in the 1920s, police didn’t have the international contacts they built from counter-terrorism and the war on drugs,” he said.

Den Heyer said Interpol, based in France, would make warrant requests to Korean police on behalf of NZ police.

He said Interpol didn’t have any enforcement power of its own, but it would ensure Korean police followed through.

“I would think they [Korean police] are onto it… there is a process of managing those investigations and applying pressure to Korea if they weren’t moving fast enough,” he said.

Den Heyer said Korean police would likely interview the woman first and then feed back to New Zealand police information, informing how they took part in the investigation in Korea.

Police launched a homicide investigation after the discovery of human remains at Moncrieff Avenue in Clendon Park.
Police launched a homicide investigation after the discovery of human remains at Moncrieff Avenue in Clendon Park. (David White / Stuff)

“New Zealand police can’t actually interview the person [in the first instance],” he said.

However, he said there were three likely scenarios for how New Zealand police would be co-operating with their Korean counterparts.

With the Korean’s agreement, den Heyer said NZ police might send questions to Korean police to ask in an interview, take part in an interview via video link, or even send an officer to Korea.

“The person might agree to being interviewed through their lawyer by a local police officer with an NZ officer present,” den Heyer said.

Which strategy they choose would depend on what evidence New Zealand police hold and what they expected to get from the woman.

From there, they would decide whether they want to and have enough evidence to extradite the woman back to New Zealand.

In the Kim Dotcom case, den Heyer said the FBI had requested the Mega Upload founder’s arrest through Interpol, but it was the New Zealand police who carried it out.

NZ police and Korean police have worked together on extraditions before, including on a man who in 2018 was wanted for a triple homicide in Korea but fled to New Zealand.

This story first appeared on Stuff and is republished here with permission.

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