Suspect whose case sparked extradition row due for release, Taiwan urges HK to pursue murder charge

Chan Tong-kai (left) and his then-girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing (right), whom he stands accused of murdering in Taiwan last February. Photo via Facebook.
Chan Tong-kai (left) and his then-girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing (right), whom he stands accused of murdering in Taiwan last February. Photo via Facebook.

Taiwan has urged the Hong Kong government to keep Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case sparked the extradition bill crisis and months of protests, in custody after it emerged that he could be released as early as next week.

Chan is wanted by the Taiwanese authorities for murdering his 20-year-old girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taipei in February of 2018 before flying back to Hong Kong. He was arrested here, but as the murder occurred outside of Hong Kong’s jurisdiction, he could only be charged with money laundering in relation to money he stole from Poon, even though he admitted to killing her.

Chan’s case prompted the Hong Kong government to introduce amendments to the current extradition law, which does not permit extradition to Taiwan. The bill, however, would have also controversially allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China, sparking widespread fears and setting off mass demonstrations that have since morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement.

In April, Chan was sentenced to 29 months in jail for money laundering, but according to Ming Pao, he could be released from Pik Uk Prison on Wednesday, Oct. 23 owing to time served prior to his conviction and good behavior.

But on Thursday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice issued a press release urging the SAR authorities to keep Chan in custody, saying it was believed Chan had planned the murder in Hong Kong before arriving in Taiwan. They also said that SAR authorities had gathered evidence in Hong Kong that was not passed on to their Taiwanese counterparts.

The statement maintained that Hong Kong does indeed have jurisdiction to pursue the murder case, and urged authorities to continue to hold Chan in custody while pursuing it.

However, if a Sing Tao report this morning is accurate, the question of jurisdiction may be moot. According to the report, based on the account of a pastor who has visited Chan several times in prison, Chan plans to hand himself over to Taiwanese authorities after he’s released. The pastor added that Chan had expressed remorse for what he had done, and felt guilty that his case had caused so much social turmoil.

The unnamed pastor said that Chan has also received visits from Taiwanese lawyers who had explained the self-governing island’s legal system to him, and that after his release, he plans on spending time with his family and friends before turning himself in.

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