Extradition of Chung Yoo-ra won’t be fast, says Denmark

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Extradition of Chung Yoo-ra won’t be fast, says Denmark

Even though Korea and Denmark have signed a bilateral extradition agreement, a swift extradition of Chung Yoo-ra, daughter of presidential friend Choi Soon-sil, is unlikely, according to interviews with Mohammad Ahsan, Deputy Director of Denmark’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Korea’s Ministry of Justice filed an extradition warrant for Chung with the Danish government last week. Arrested and detained since Jan. 1 in the northern city of Aalborg, Chung now faces a local prosecution probe that will determine the legal grounds for extradition using evidence and charges against her provided by the Korean government. A local court extended Chung’s detention to Jan. 30.

In a meeting on Saturday, Ahsan told Korean Ambassador to Denmark Choi Jai-chul that all evidence against Chung will be examined to determine whether she must be extradited.

Chung, 20, is accused of receiving preferential treatment at Ewha Womans University and generous funding of a questionable nature from Samsung Electronics, which also donated the largest sums to foundations linked to Choi, who is at the center of the corruption scandal imperilling the Park Geun-hye presidency.

In interviews conducted separately with a group of Korean journalists earlier on Saturday, Ahsan said he will focus on the charges related to extradition only, rather than extending the probe to other illegalities Chung may have committed in Denmark.

He added that the prosecution may ask the local police to interrogate Chung as early as next week if it finds reasons to do so.

Korea has signed extradition agreements with some 70 countries, including Denmark.

“We have now received the extradition warrant,” Ahsan said in a press release on Friday. “It contains quite a lot of pages, which we are now studying thoroughly. When we are finished, we can decide whether Chung Yoo-ra can be extradited to South Korea.”

He added, “But exactly how long the case processing will take depends, among other things, on how complicated the legal conditions of the extradition warrant are.”

The process could go beyond Jan. 30. “It may be that we will be able to reach a decision in the case before January 30, but, of course, it would be natural to request an extension of the remand if this is not the case,” Ahsan said.

Even if the Danish prosecution requests that Chung be extradited and a court rules in favor, the process could be prolonged if Chung files for protection against extradition.

Critics have questioned whether the extradition process could have been sped up if Interpol had issued a Red Notice, a request to “locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition.”

Korean authorities requested Interpol to issue a Red Notice for Chung on Dec. 27. After Chung was arrested on Jan. 1, Interpol said it decided not to issue a Red Notice, saying that the initial purpose, which was to locate and arrest Chung, had been achieved.

Chung could try to drag out the case by arguing there is no one to look after her baby if she is extradited and detained in Korea. Ahsan said the fact that she has a baby has no effect on a decision on extradition.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, LEE HYUN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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