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Jakarta Post

US seeks extradition of North Korean from Malaysia

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Thu, July 4, 2019   /   05:55 pm
US seeks extradition of North Korean from Malaysia North Korean and US flags stand side by side at the location where North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un will meet with US President Donald Trump for a US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will make history on June 12, becoming the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

The US is seeking the extradition of a North Korean man from Malaysia for alleged involvement in money-laundering in breach of sanctions against Pyongyang, a Kuala Lumpur court heard Thursday. 

Mun Chol Myong, who has lived in the Southeast Asian country for a decade with his wife and two daughters, was arrested in May.

The 54-year-old is facing five counts of money-laundering in the US. Prosecutors said the charges relate to the trade in luxury goods, including liquor, to the North.

North Korea has been hit with repeated rounds of crippling sanctions -- imposed by the United Nations and countries such as the US -- over its nuclear-weapons programme. 

These include trying to halt the trade in luxury goods as a way of targeting the country's elite. 

Mun has been in custody since his arrest and last month a judge rejected a bail application, saying he was a flight risk.

At a procedural hearing Thursday, lawyer Jagjit Singh again argued Mun should be released on bail and complained prosecutors had not shared documents from US officials with the defence.

"It is not a violent offence... It is only money laundering offence not terrorism related," he told the court.

Mun was unwell and had lost 10 kilograms (22 pounds) since being arrested, the lawyer said.

But the judge rejected the request for Mun's release and set the next hearing for July 12.

His lawyers say he will fight the extradition bid, meaning the case could drag on for years.

Prosecutor Faizul Aswad Masri said the offences allegedly happened between 2014 and 2017, and involved "controlled items which cannot be exported to North Korea". 

He did not give further details.

In neighbouring Singapore, three people were charged last year with supplying luxury goods, including jewellery, wine and perfume, to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.