In a significant turn of events, Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs, has once again evaded extradition to the United States as the Montenegro government reversed its decision.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been pushing for charges against Kwon, with March 25th being the deadline for the Montenegro government to take action.
Appellate Court Overturns Extradition Ruling
According to a press release issued by the Montenegrin Court of Appeal on Thursday, the panel accepted the appeal filed by Do Kwon’s defense attorneys in a February 7, 2023, session.
As a result, the court annulled the previous decision made by the High Court in Podgorica on December 29, 2023, and sent the case back to the first-instance court for a retrial and a new verdict.
The initial ruling by the Higher Court in Podgorica in Do Kwon’s case had determined that the legal requirements for Kwon’s extradition had been met based on multiple criminal offenses alleged by the Republic of South Korea and the pleas made by the United States.
However, the Appellate Court panel found significant violations of criminal procedure in the decision, citing “incomprehensible wording,” lack of decisive facts, and “unclear” reasons as grounds for its cancellation.
Do Kwon’s Journey Through Montenegro’s Legal System
The panel noted that the first instance court failed to acknowledge that this particular case followed a shortened extradition procedure, where the court, by Article 29 of the law on international legal assistance in criminal matters, is responsible for making the extradition decision rather than the Minister of Justice as in regular procedures.
The statement highlights that the Court of First Instance also failed to establish without doubt the order of arrival of extradition requests from both the Republic of South Korea and the United States, which is a “crucial criterion” when determining the terms of Article 26 of the aforementioned law in cases involving extradition requests from multiple countries for the same individual.
Do Kwon was initially arrested in Montenegro in March on charges of using a fake passport in an attempt to leave the country. However, pending trial, he was released from jail on bail amounting to $436,000 in May.
In June, a Montenegro court found him guilty of document forgery, resulting in a four-month prison sentence. Despite his appeal, which was subsequently denied, Kwon was ultimately sentenced to four months in November.
The latest decision by the Montenegrin Court of Appeal has become a significant relief for Do Kwon, as it effectively blocks his extradition to the United States. The case will now undergo retrial, and the outcome will determine the future course of action regarding the charges against him.
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