PASADENA (CN) – The son of a U.S. veteran accused of involvement in the murder of a college student in South Korea must face extradition, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
Korean prosecutors say Arthur Patterson was 17 in 1997 when he helped his friend Edward Lee stab a college student to death in Seoul.
Patterson, the son of an American serviceman stationed in South Korea, allegedly followed Cho Joong-pil into a Burger King restroom and emerged covered in blood.
With Patterson pinning the murder itself on Lee, South Korea initially prosecuted Lee for murder and Patterson for destruction of evidence, alleging that Patterson took the knife used to stab Cho and threw it in the sewer.
Patterson served a little more than a year in prison and returned to the United States in 1999.
Lee was convicted of murder, but his conviction was overturned on appeal and he was eventually acquitted, the opinion says.
South Korean prosecutors requested Patterson’s extradition in 2009 to prosecute him for murder.
U.S. authorities took another two years to obtain and execute an arrest warrant against Patterson.
In 2012, a federal judge upheld Patterson’s extradition to South Korea.
The 9th Circuit affirmed Monday, rejecting Patterson’s claim that his prosecution in South Korea is untimely in violation of the 1998 extradition treaty between the U.S. and South Korea.
Patterson had claimed that the lower court ignored evidence from the treaty’s drafting and negotiating history, but a three-judge appellate panel concluded Monday that this “extra-textual evidence” actually “reinforces the natural reading of” the treaty.
“Under that reading, the Secretary of State may choose, in his or her discretion, whether to grant or deny extradition in a case where the statute of limitations in the United States has expired,” Judge William Fletcher wrote for the court.
Patterson had also failed to challenge his extradition under the Status of Forces Agreement governing U.S. military personnel and their dependents in South Korea.
Though Patterson said he faced double jeopardy in contravention of the agreement, Fletcher said the law establishes a diplomatic conflict-resolution scheme with “no role for the judiciary.”
“Even if prosecution of Patterson for murder violates the SOFA’s provision protecting against double jeopardy (a question we do not decide), that provision does not provide a basis for a court to bar his extradition,” the 18-page opinion states.
Patterson may still, however, seek relief on the extradition from the Secretary of State, according to the ruling.
“We hold only that neither the treaty nor the SOFA provides a basis for judicial relief,” Fletcher wrote.
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