Montenegro races against time to put Do Kwon behind bars

In this post:

  • Montenegro is racing against time to charge and detain Do Kwon for using false documents, as US and South Korea seek extradition.
  • Kwon may face harsh conditions in Montenegro’s penal system, which has been criticized for overcrowding and lack of medical care.

Montenegro is racing against time to put Terra co-founder Do Kwon behind bars as US and South Korean authorities vie for his extradition.

The 36-year-old Montenegrin prosecutor Haris Šabotić, who is set to face Kwon in court, has revealed that they are only concerned with charging him for using forged documents. However, authorities are yet to determine how Kwon and his accomplice Han Chang-joon entered Montenegro.

Kwon’s first appearance in court

Despite facing charges related to the $60 billion collapse of Terra, Kwon’s first appearance in court was over accusations of using a forged Costa Rican passport.

Kwon and Han are suspected to have entered Montenegro 10 days before their arrest on March 23, but it’s unknown which border crossing they used or what identification they used to enter.

In an interview, Šabotić revealed that a border guard’s suspicions over the legitimacy of Kwon and Han’s passports triggered their arrest, and not the Interpol Red Notice.

Kwon and Han were taken to a police station in Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital, after their arrest, where they were questioned by prosecutors.

The prosecution is now working towards formally charging the two men with using false documents. A judge ruled that they could be detained until April 23rd while the prosecution gathers enough evidence.

Montenegro’s Minister of Justice, Marko Kovač, confirmed that all evidence found on Kwon and Han Chang-joon would be shared with US and South Korean authorities.

Both countries have officially requested that Do Kwon be extradited, but a Montenegrin judge will determine which country gets him first.

The head of the State Prosecution Office, Duško Milanović, stated that “they were like any other defendant,” and that the prosecution was collecting evidence against them.

Šabotić, who was appointed as a state prosecutor in June, has many cases under his belt, including everything from falsification of documents to serious theft and the illegal possession of weapons and explosive materials.

“If we don’t obtain enough evidence, criminal charges for this will be dismissed and we will inform the Higher Court in Podgorica so they can take the case, because of the Interpol arrest warrant,” Šabotić said.

The conditions of Montenegrin jails

Do Kwon is currently in custody in Montenegro and potentially awaiting extradition to the United States or South Korea. If convicted, he will reportedly face harsh conditions in the country’s penal system.

According to a Protos report, an unnamed criminal defense lawyer said conditions at Montenegro’s jails and prisons “haven’t changed” from those described in a 2020 human rights report by the United States State Department.

The report cited a case in which prison officers had been convicted of torturing and “inflicting grievous bodily harm” on 11 inmates in 2015 and other “poor” conditions in some of Montenegro’s prisons due to overcrowding and lack of medical care.

Citing reports from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the State Department said many prisoners had been confined to overcrowded cells for roughly 23 hours a day, with some reports of violence between inmates.

Kwon, who had remained elusive following the collapse of Terra in May 2022, was detained at the Podgorica airport on March 23, after which time authorities confirmed his identity.

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