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Police Expect To Exhume Korean Tourist's Body Tomorrow

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
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Wellington, Oct 15 NZPA - Police expect to exhume the remains of Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim tomorrow from a remote site south of Westport.

The breakthrough in the inquiry into the murder of the 25-year-old backpacker five years ago was announced by Detective Inspector John Winter during a depositions hearing in Greymouth District Court today.

The hearing, into the role of three men believed responsible for Mr Kim's death, started on Monday.

Since then, one man, who has a blanket suppression order including the nature of the charge he faces, has denied the charge and has been remanded to appear in the High Court at Christchurch on November 21 for a pre-trial conference.

The second of the trio, a 31-year-old man, whose name is suppressed, pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering 25-year-old Mr Kim at Charleston, near Westport, in September or October 2003.

He was committed for sentence in the High Court at Wellington on December 6.

The hearing is continuing for 28-year-old Nelson fisherman Shannon Brent Flewellen.

Mr Winter said police would return to the Four Mile River area, just south of Charleston, where witnesses allege Flewellen and associates killed and decapitated Mr Kim five years ago.

The area was extensively searched without success for over a week during June, after fresh evidence resulted in the arrest of the three men now in court.

Mr Winter would not say whether the man who yesterday pleaded guilty to Mr Kim's murder supplied the new information or led them to the body.

A third man gave evidence during the hearing of being present when Mr Kim was killed, but not when the other two returned to bury the body the following day.

Mr Winter said police contacted the Korean Consulate in Auckland, who were in regular contact with Mr Kim's family in Pusan, to inform them of developments.

Support staff would arrive in the Four Mile Bridge area today and, as long as the weather remained good, "operations" would begin tomorrow morning, Mr Winter said.

The Crown alleges Mr Kim was choked to death after Flewellen and two others picked him up as he was thumbing a ride south of Westport.

A woman yesterday told the court how Flewellen admitted to her that he strangled Mr Kim before chopping off his head.

Kim arrived on a backpacking trip around New Zealand in February 2003. The last trace he left was an eftpos transaction at a Westport bar on September 29 of that year.

He was reported missing by his family in May 2004.

Prosecutor Chris Lange said the Crown would call 25 witnesses, including associates of the defendants, who would tell the court of admissions to the crime that they had made to various people.

Finding Mr Kim's body would strengthen the prosecution case against Flewellen, as police currently lacked the forensic evidence they would get from the corpse, and the vehicle the defendants travelled in had been destroyed.

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