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North Korean in Malaysia loses final appeal against US extradition

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North Korean embassy counsellor Kim Yu Song (left) walks with Jagjit Singh (right), lawyer to Mun Chol Myong, the North Korean man facing extradition from Malaysia to the US on money-laundering, at the Session Court in Kuala Lumpur on December 13, 2019. PHOTO: Agence France Presse/Mohd. Rasfan)

A North Korean man is set to be extradited from Malaysia to face money laundering charges in the United States after losing a final legal challenge on Tuesday.

Mun Chol Myong, who has lived in the Southeast Asian country for a decade with his family, was arrested in 2019 following the extradition request from Washington.

He denies FBI claims that he led a criminal group that violated sanctions by supplying prohibited items to North Korea and laundered funds through front companies.

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Mun challenged the move to extradite him, with his lawyers arguing he was an innocent man caught in the middle of diplomatic tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

But the country’s top court rejected his final appeal, saying all requirements under the extradition agreement between the United States and Malaysia had been met.

Prosecutor Mohamad Dusuki Mokhtar earlier told the court that it was the government’s “duty to facilitate the extradition”.

“It involves the relationship between two nations, we need not worry about the right to a fair trial. The actual trial will happen in the US.”

Mun, in his 50s, was not in court for the verdict, although his wife and daughter were.

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Lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said the family were “upset” by the decision, and authorities would now decide on the extradition date.

He is accused of four charges of money laundering and two of conspiracy to launder money, and the allegations relate mainly to his work in neighbouring Singapore, according to his lawyers.

It is not clear what he is accused of supplying, but there have been cases of businesses in Singapore sending luxury items, such as liquor and watches, to North Korea.

The export to North Korea of some luxury goods has been banned as part of sweeping sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations and other countries — including the United States — over its weapons programmes.

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