Caixin
Oct 19, 2019 07:00 PM

Murder Suspect Behind Hong Kong Extradition Bill to Turn Himself in to Taiwan

Photo: internet screenshot of Chan Tong-kai
Photo: internet screenshot of Chan Tong-kai

A murder suspect who sparked Hong Kong’s controversial but now-withdrawn extradition bill that resulted in massive public protests has decided to turn himself in to Taiwan authorities, according to a Hong Kong government statement published Friday.

Chan Tong-kai, who fled to his home in Hong Kong after allegedly murdering his girlfriend while on vacation in Taiwan, wrote Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying he was willing to surrender to Taiwan authorities and asked the city’s government to make relevant arrangements, according to a statement published on the Hong Kong special administrative region government’s website.

“Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau today received a letter issued by the Hong Kong Police Force, relaying Chan’s decision to surrender himself to Taiwan,” the Hong Kong government said in its statement.

The crime that touched off the debate over the now-withdrawn extradition bill occurred in February 2018, when 20-year-old Hong Kong resident Poon Hiu-wing was killed while on vacation in Taiwan. As her boyfriend, Chan was key suspect in the case. He fled back to Hong Kong and was arrested there a few weeks later on charges of money laundering for his use of Poon’s cash and property.

Hong Kong court documents show that Chan, who was 19 at the time, admitted to city investigators that he had strangled Poon after finding out that she was pregnant with her ex-boyfriend’s child.

In December, Taiwan authorities issued an arrest warrant for Chan, but because there is no extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan, Hong Kong authorities refused to deport Chan to Taiwan. Neither could Chan be prosecuted for murder in Hong Kong, since the city’s laws on murder only apply to crimes committed within its borders. Chan was eventually found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to 29 months in prison.

Chan is expected to leave prison soon, as many believe his sentence will be reduced due to good behavior while in jail, Hong Kong media has reported, citing sources.

Chan’s case led the Hong Kong government to propose amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance Ordinance in February to allow extradition to other jurisdictions, including the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. The bill soon sparked a sharp public backlash and mass protests out of fear of politically motivated extraditions to the mainland, which later escalated to a broader anti-government movement that is now in its fifth month.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam last month announced that the government would formally withdraw the bill. However, when Lam refused to meet other demands, the protests continued and have become increasingly violent. Earlier this month, Lam invoked a colonial-era emergency law to ban people from covering up their faces during public assemblies in a bid to stop the escalated violence.

As the unrest in Hong Kong continues, concerns have emerged over the city’s deteriorating economic outlook. Lam said (link in Chinese) Wednesday that the city might have entered a technical recession — two consecutive quarters of negative growth — in the third quarter after the city’s GDP contracted 0.4% in the second quarter compared to the first.

Compared to the same period a year earlier, Hong Kong’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew only 0.5% in the second quarter — its lowest growth rate in nearly a decade.

The Hong Kong government is expected to release its GDP figures for the third quarter later this month.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com, Twitter: @timmyhmshen)


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