Switzerland murder suspect arrested in New Zealand

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - (AP) -- A man accused of murdering his girlfriend nearly 14 years ago in Switzerland was arrested Tuesday in New Zealand.

The 42-year-old Sri Lankan national is accused of murdering 23-year-old Kavitha Kandiah on Dec. 13, 2000, in the city of Basel. He was arrested under a Swiss warrant and granted interim name suppression by a New Zealand court pending an appearance next week.

Police said the man used false identification and travel documents to gain access to New Zealand two months after the woman was killed. He was granted New Zealand citizenship in 2004 and had been a living in Auckland and running a small business.

New Zealand doesn't have an extradition agreement with Switzerland. Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said police have been working with Swiss authorities on the case since 2011 to ensure they could make an effective arrest.

Authorities are now attempting to rescind the man's New Zealand citizenship. They may then seek to deport him.

The case raises questions about how the man was able to become a citizen in New Zealand if he was using fake documents.

Michael Mead, a spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs, said its processes have improved significantly in the 10 years since the man gained citizenship.

For instance, he said, the department now checks applications against death records, something it began doing in 2004. He said passports have become more secure over recent years thanks to technological innovations such as facial recognition.

He said fraud is very low and has been declining.

"Unfortunately no system can ever be free from fraud but thankfully the vast majority of citizenship applications are genuine and honest," the department said in a statement. "We take breaches very seriously and will not hesitate to act when we uncover incidents of fraud or dishonesty."

Mead said he couldn't comment on the Swiss case other than to say the department had issued the man a letter advising him his citizenship may be rescinded.

Police said the man had lived in Switzerland for 10 years before he moved to New Zealand.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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