A Malaysian court ruled Friday in favor of a U.S. request that a North Korean businessman be extradited to the United States to face money-laundering charges related to sanctions against Pyongyang, but his attorneys vowed to appeal the decision through a lengthy legal process.
Mun Chol Myong, 54, who has been living in Malaysia for years and was involved in business dealings in China, has been in detention in Kuala Lumpur since his arrest on May 13, after U.S. authorities requested his extradition. They alleged he had breached international sanctions by supplying luxury goods to his reclusive home country.
“Based on the oral and written submissions, the court is satisfied and will allow the extradition request by the prosecutors,” Sessions Court Judge Rohatul Akmar Abdullah. “The respondent (Mun) will be sent to the prison while waiting for the minister’s order to send him to the [United States].”
The judge also gave Mun and his defense team 15 days to challenge the ruling before the High Court.
Mun’s attorneys, who had earlier described Washington’s allegations as baseless, said they would file an appeal to block his extradition.
“We can appeal the decision in a higher court. It’s a long way to go. The process may take years as the decision today is only at the Sessions Court,” Mun’s attorney, Jagjit Singh, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
Mun, who wore a brown shirt and slippers in the courtroom, appeared surprised after one of his lawyers told him about the court’s decision. He glanced toward his wife, Kang Son Bi, who was sitting at the public gallery behind him, then bowed his head. North Korean embassy officials were also present.
As he was about to be escorted back to prison, Mun again asked his lawyer, Singh, to explain what the ruling meant.
Malaysia had approved Mun’s extradition, but he challenged the allegations in court. In his affidavit, he denied claims made by the FBI that he was the “leader of an international organized criminal group involved in laundering proceeds of bank fraud.”
Prosecutors previously told the court that between 2014 and 2017, Mun laundered funds through front companies using falsified documents, and that he shipped “controlled items” to North Korea when he worked in 2014 as a business development manager for a Singapore-based company, which allegedly supplied goods to North Korea.
Mun, whose bail request had been rejected by the judge, is facing four U.S. charges of money laundering and two charges of conspiracy to launder money. He has lived in Malaysia with his family for about a decade.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.