If Haris Šabotić was nervous about his starring role in crypto legal history, he didn’t show it.
Sat behind a large glossy table in court offices, the 36-year-old Montenegrin prosecutor — who is set to be the first lawyer to face Do Kwon in court — was matter of fact.
“We are only concerned with charging him for using the forged documents. How they got them or from where is a matter for the police,” he told DL News, declining to elaborate on any of the more salacious details surrounding the arrest that ended a six-month international manhunt.
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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. The pair were last known to be in Serbia, but their trail had run cold, Serbian prosecutor Branko Stamenkovic revealed to DL News earlier this month.
Despite being wanted by the US and South Korea for charges relating to the $60 billion collapse of Terra, Kwon’s first time in front of a judge was over accusations of using a forged Costa Rican passport.
In the interview, Šabotić revealed that the trigger for arrest of these two men was not the Interpol Red Notice, but a border guard’s suspicions over the legitimacy of Kwon and Han’s passports.
Šabotić revealed that the trigger for arrest of these two men was not the Interpol Red Notice, but a border guard’s suspicions over the legitimacy of Kwon and Han’s passports.
Šabotić's job, alongside head prosecutor Duško Milanović, is to formally charge the Kwon and his accomplice Han Chang-joon for using false documents. A judge ruled the pair could be detained until April 23rd while the prosecution gathers enough evidence.
On March 23, around 3pm local time, Šabotić said he received a call from the police saying two wanted Korean citizens had been arrested at the airport in Podgorica on suspicion of using false Costa Rican passports.
“Those passports were suspicious and that was the alarm for the police,” Duško Milanović, Head of State Prosecution Office told DL News. “After that, we got a notification that the person arrested is wanted by Interpol.”
Police also found Belgian identity documents within the luggage of Kwon and Han Chang-Joon. Montenegro’s Minister of Justice Marko Kovač confirmed on Wednesday that all evidence found on the two men will be shared with US and South Korean authorities.
Both countries have officially requested Do Kwon be extradited — although it will be up to a Montenegrin judge to determine which country gets him first.
After Montenegrin police arrested Kwon and Han, they were taken to a police station in Podgorica, the country’s capital, before questioning.
“They gave a brief statement in English to the prosecution and denied being guilty,” he said.
Šabotić, who was appointed as a state prosecutor in June, has many cases under his belt — everything from falsification of documents, serious theft and the illegal possession of weapons and explosive materials.
“They were like any other defendant,” he told DL News.
“As soon as we collect enough evidence, we’ll finish this case,” he said, adding that he is expected to be done before the legal deadline of April 23.
Once the prosecution brings formal charges, the two men will stand trial before Podgorica’s Basic Court. If found guilty, they face up to five years in prison.
And what if they are found not guilty?
“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.