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South Korea Wins Extradition Fight for Do Kwon, US Request for Temporary Detention “Insufficient”

Last Updated March 21, 2024 12:34 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated March 21, 2024 12:34 PM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • The Montenegrin Court of Appeals has rejected Do Kwon’s appeal, finalizing his extradition to South Korea.
  • The court’s decision hinged on the timing of extradition requests. South Korea submitted their request before the U.S.
  • The exact date of Do Kwon’s extradition to South Korea remains unclear.

The Montenegrin Court of Appeals has dismissed  Terra cryptocurrency founder Do Kwon’s appeals, upholding a March 6 Higher Court ruling.

This allows his extradition to South Korea, rather than the United States.

Do Kwon Headed to South Korea After Extradition Appeal Rejected

With Wednesday’s decision , the question of which country Do Kwon will be extradited to has been resolved.

The initial decision approved the extradition of Do Kwon to face charges for multiple crimes in South Korea. It cited the timing of South Korea’s extradition request, which preceded that of the US.

The ruling said: “The Court of Appeals evaluated that the first-instance court rightly established that the request from the Republic of South Korea was received first.”

An official from the Higher Court said that the Ministry of Justice would specify the precise date for the extradition.

Court Ignores Earlier South Korea Extradition Request in Do Kwon Case

According to the official statement , shared with CCN and later published on the official court website, the trial court said the US extradition request arrived on March 27, 2023. This was one day before South Korea’s request, which came on March 28, 2023. The trial court drew this conclusion based on two things. Firstly, the Ministry of Justice’s correspondence dated February 13, 2024, and secondly, on documents with receipt stamps indicating the dates of receipt.

However, the court did not address the content of the Ministry of Justice’s document dated February 19, 2024, and its attachments. These attachments said a note from the US Embassy asking for temporary detention was delivered to the Ministry of Justice through the Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 27 last year. A note from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea followed a day later, accompanied by an extradition request. However, the South Korean Ministry of Justice sent an extradition request electronically in English on March 24, 2023, and again electronically in Montenegrin on March 26, 2023.

The trial court failed to consider and evaluate this document with its attachments in accordance with Article 6(2) of the Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. This says the domestic judicial body will act on a request for international legal assistance from a foreign judicial body. This is the case even if the request is submitted electronically with a confirmation of receipt, provided the authenticity can be verified and the foreign judicial body is prepared to deliver the original request within 15 days.

Is the Do Kwon Saga Finally Over?

On June 19, 2023, a Montenegrin court sentenced Kwon and associate Han Chang-joon to four months in jail for using forged IDs. Their arrest occurred on March 23, 2023, at Podgorica airport as they tried to board a flight to Dubai with fake Costa Rican documents.

Montenegrin law says extradition can only begin after the completion of any sentences served within Montenegro. Subsequently, the Higher Court initially delegated the decision of Do Kwon’s extradition destination to Justice Minister Andrej Milovic.

However, the Court of Appeals later overturned this decision. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals reversed a decision by the Higher Court in February, which had ruled Kwon should be sent to the US to face charges there.

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