U.S. citizen accused of murdering S. Korean student loses extradition appeal case

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. citizen accused of murdering a local college student in 1997 has lost a legal battle to appeal a court order approving his extradition to South Korea, the government said Sunday.

The U.S. federal court in California ruled against Arthur Patterson who applied for habeas corpus legal action in December 2012 aimed at preventing Seoul from extraditing him to face charges of homicide, the Ministry of Justice said.

The 34-year-old has been suspected of stabbing the victim multiple times at a Burger King outlet in the popular foreigner district of Itaewon 16 years ago. The suspect was in South Korea, as the dependent of a civilian worker assigned to the U.S. military and was under investigation when he fled the country. His departure was made possible after law enforcement authorities mistakenly failed to extend his departure ban.

Since then, the Prosecutors' Office had indicted Patterson for the murder of the 22-year-old student in November 2011, which set into motion the ongoing extradition process.

A U.S. court had already accepted Seoul's request to try him in a local court in October 2012, but he applied for the habeas corpus motion aimed at getting his release from detention in Los Angeles.

The ministry said the latest federal court ruling found evidence against Patterson deserved consideration and that overall conditions met the existing criteria as stated in the bilateral extradition treaty between South Korea and the United States.

"The court said Patterson's extradition to South Korea is valid," the ministry said.

It, however, said that Patterson immediately filed for another appeal right after the court ruled against him in June, meaning the exact time he will be sent to South Korea is uncertain.

"Because he can appeal the case a total of three times, it may be awhile before he is brought to South Korea," an official, who did not wish to be identified said.

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