A Hong Kong man at the centre of a fierce debate over the city’s extradition laws has admitted to murdering his pregnant girlfriend during a trip to Taiwan in February last year.
Chan Tong-kai, 19, plead guilty to four charges of money-laundering at the High Court on Friday, in relation to money and valuables he took from Poon Hiu-wing, 20, after her death.
But he will not be punished for the murder itself – because local courts have no jurisdiction over crimes committed in Taiwan – and the two sides do not have any extradition agreement.
Prosecutors for the first time laid out a summary of facts over the case on Friday, including a detailed account of the killing.
The court heard the Chan had admitted under police caution that he had bashed Poon’s head against the wall before strangling her in their hotel room, after the couple had a row over her pregnancy the day they were due to fly back to the SAR.
He had told officers that he had throttled her from behind, and there was a ten-minute struggle on the floor before she died, the court heard.
Chan had also explained to police that he had felt ‘agitated’ after Poon told him that her baby’s father was her ex-boyfriend, and showed him a video of her having sex with another man. Then, the court heard, he attacked her.
The teenager then put her body inside a suitcase, and rode the subway for 15 stops before dumping her body in a park outside of Taipei.
Asked whether this summary of facts is accurate, Chan said, “yes.”
Prosecutors urged the court to consider that the money laundering and theft charges Chan has admitted to are a result of Poon’s death.
But Judge Anthea Pang said the court cannot deal with the potential murder or manslaughter element of the case, and can only deal with the money-laundering related charges here.
Chan has admitted to withdrawing a total of HK$25,000 from Poon’s account using her bank card both in Taipei and in Hong Kong. He also admitted to taking her digital camera and mobile phone.
In mitigation, the defence lawyer said Chan has a clean record, and that he had pleaded guilty “at the first opportunity". The lawyer noted that Chan has been remanded in custody since March last year.
The government has cited the apparent murder cases as an example of a ‘loophole’ in Hong Kong’s extradition laws – where locals who commit crimes in jurisdictions with which the SAR does not have any rendition agreement cannot be returned there to face justice.
It then proposed legal changes to allow the government to hand over such suspects back to such jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis. But pro-democracy lawmakers, legal experts and other critics are vehemently opposed to such changes, expressing concerns that such an arrangement could be abused by Beijing to target its political enemies here.
Chan appeared calm and emotionless in the defendant's dock during the hearing. He is due to be sentenced on April 29.