Taiwan's govt insists HK sign accord before it accepts murder suspect

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Hong Kong murder suspect Chan Tong-kai reportedly plans to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities. 

Hong Kong murder suspect Chan Tong-kai reportedly plans to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities.  (AP photo)

The Mainland Affairs Council on Thursday (Oct. 15) reiterated its stance that Taiwan and Hong Kong must first clarify jurisdiction-related issues between the two sides before Taiwanese authorities accept a Hong Kong murder suspect who wants to turn himself in for allegedly killing his girlfriend in Taiwan in 2018.

Speaking at a regular news briefing, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) insisted that related issues must be settled first to allow Taiwan and Hong Kong to exercise their power under respective jurisdictions.

Only after pertaining key issues are adequately handled can the two sides begin to discuss whether murder suspect Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳) should be allowed to enter Taiwan and turn himself in to stand trial here, Chiu said.

The aim of Taiwan's government is to have the suspect receive due treatment and bring justice to the victim's family as soon as possible, he added.

Hong Kong authorities should agree to ink a judicial assistance accord with Taiwan quickly now that Taiwan's Shilin District Prosecutors' Office, which is in charge of the Chan case, has raised such a request, Chiu argued.

Taiwan has insisted that the two sides sign such an accord even if Hong Kong authorities allow him to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities without one because it does not want to be seen as a province of China.

Hong Kong's government had said it has no reason to hold Chan because he had already served his sentence for a separate crime and all the evidence of the murder are in Taiwan. It does not want to sign an extradition agreement with Taiwan, even though it has such accords with other countries because it supports mainland China's view that Taiwan, like Hong Kong and Macau, is a part of one China, and is not a separate country.
It's unclear whether Hong Kong's government will agree to sign a judicial assistance agreement with Taiwan.

Relations between the two sides have deteriorated in recent years, and especially after the mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019 against a controversial proposed law that would have allowed suspects caught in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan to face trial.

Beijing has accused Taipei of fomenting the often violent protests, an allegation Taiwan's government has denied.

A source in Hong Kong confirmed to CNA earlier on Thursday that priest Peter Douglas Koon (管浩鳴) of the Hong Kong Anglican Church, who has been helping Chan in his attempt to turn himself in to Taiwan, accompanied Chan to apply for entry visas at Taiwan's outpost in the territory on Wednesday.

Their applications, however, were rejected for undisclosed reasons, the source told CNA.

Chan fled back to Hong Kong after he allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing (潘曉穎) in Taiwan in February 2018.

He was released in October 2019 after serving a short jail term on charges of money laundering for stealing Poon's belongings.

Chan's case was the reason the Hong Kong government gave for trying to pass the extradition bill last year that triggered massive protests against what was seen as increasing encroachment on Hong Kong's autonomy by Beijing.

Chan has repeatedly said that he was willing to stand trial in Taiwan, but the issue has been stalled since his release due to the political wrangle between Taiwan and Hong Kong authorities.

Poon's mother on Thursday urged Taiwan's authorities to simplify procedures and put aside their differences with Hong Kong so that Chan can turn himself in. She issued an open letter to Taiwan's government, appealing to the authorities here to quickly let Chan come to Taiwan to face justice.

Meanwhile, Taipei-based Lee and Li law office confirmed on Wednesday that one of its attorneys has received Chan's commission to defend his interests in Taiwanese court.