NZ man gets life in South Korean backpacker’s death

Posted on 09 Dec 2008 at 2:57pm

Killer already convicted of murdering gay man in 1999

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand court sent a man who confessed to killing a South Korean backpacker to prison for at least 25 years on Dec. 5 and said the assailant was motivated by neo-Nazi beliefs.

The High Court sentenced Hayden Brent McKenzie to life for the murder of Kim Jae-Hyeon, 25. A life sentence is normally 10 years in New Zealand, but Justice Simon France imposed a non-parole period of 25 years.

It was the second life sentence for McKenzie, 31, who was convicted in 2004 for his part in the 1999 murder of a gay man.

Police and prosecutors have not publicly given a motive for Kim’s slaying, but France said at the sentencing hearing that McKenzie had been associated with a white supremacist group at the time of both killings.

Both were the result of McKenzie’s "abhorrent" neo-Nazi beliefs, France said.

Kim disappeared in October 2003 while on a hitchhiking holiday on South Island’s West Coast. He had arrived in New Zealand in February of that year and was reported missing by his family in May 2004 after he failed to return home to the port city of Busan.

Kim’s body was not recovered until October, just days after McKenzie pleaded guilty to killing the hitchhiker.

Two other suspects are still to face trial in Kim’s death.

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