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Do Kwon Extradition Drama as Top Prosecutor Challenges Court Decision

Last Updated March 22, 2024 12:20 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated March 22, 2024 12:20 PM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn

  Key Takeaways

  • Montenegro’s top prosecutor challenged the court’s decision to extradite Do Kwon to South Korea.
  • The Office of the Supreme State Prosecutor argued courts overstepped their authority and used an unauthorized procedure.
  • The prosecutor says that the Minister of Justice, not the courts, has the final say on extradition decisions.
  • Do Kwon faces charges in both South Korea and the United States.

Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon’s pending extradition to South Korea has reportedly halted, following a legal challenge issued on Thursday by Montenegro’s top prosecutor.

The Office of the Supreme State Prosecutor in Montenegro said  that the decision by the High Court to extradite Kwon to his native South Korea instead of the United States, along with the appellate court’s confirmation, was conducted through “abbreviated proceedings” that exceeded its jurisdictional boundaries.

Montenegro: Extradition Decision Belongs to Minister, Not Courts

According to the statement , only Montenegro’s minister of justice can decide to allow Kwon’s extradition. Interestingly, the statement did not mention Kwon by name. Instead, it simply refers to “a citizen of the Republic of South Korea.”

The Office filed a motion to protect legality with the Supreme Court of Montenegro. This action follows the Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the lower court’s ruling.

Kwon Not Named

The lower court’s ruling granted the extradition request from South Korea for K.D.H., a South Korean citizen, through an expedited procedure. However, the lower court denied the request for extradition from the United States.

However, the Office can file a motion to protect legality against final judicial decisions and preceding judicial proceedings if the law was violated.

MNE Court Accused of Bypassing Rules, Prosecutor Seeks Review

In this specific case, the court allegedly conducted an expedited procedure instead of the standard one, which is a legal violation. Furthermore, the court may exceed its authority by deciding on the extradition. This is because this falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice.

The motion to protect legality also came about because the Court of Appeals did not hear from the Supreme State Prosecutor during the appeal process. This contradicts the provisions of the Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Law on the State Prosecutor’s Office. These laws stipulate that only the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office can represent the prosecution before the Court of Appeals. The failure to hear from the prosecutor allegedly violated criminal procedural rules and potentially impacted the decision’s legality.

The Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office requested the Supreme Court to acknowledge the validity of their motion. It also asked the court issue a judgment that modifies the lower court’s decision.

Crypto Collapse Sparks Do Kwon Extradition Battle

Montenegro found itself unwittingly caught in a tug-of-war between the US and South Korea about a year ago. In 2023 Do Kwon and his colleague, Han Chang-joon, were arrested and detained for attempting to use counterfeit Costa Rican passports en route to Dubai.

Kwon’s arrest occurred six months after Interpol issued a “red notice” for his arrest. This, in turn, came 10 months after the $40 billion collapse of his company, Terraform Labs, and the Terra ecosystem.

Kwon faces criminal charges in both the US and South Korea, but he has been contesting extradition since his arrest, lodging appeals against several court rulings with varying degrees of success. When Montenegro extradited Han to South Korea in February, Kwon seemed destined to follow suit.

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