Taiwan said on Sunday that it will not allow wanted murder suspect Chan Tong-kai to enter the island to turn himself in, unless authorities in Hong Kong formally pass over more evidence through a mutual legal assistance process.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council also confirmed media reports that Reverend Peter Koon – a top official of the Hong Kong Anglican church – is also banned from entering for now. Koon has said he intends to accompany Chan to surrender himself to the authorities in Taipei.
Chan has confessed to killing his former girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taipei in February last year, before fleeing back to Hong Kong, where he was jailed for stealing her money and valuables.
However, local authorities say they do not have enough evidence to charge him for murder, and the case had prompted the Chief Executive Carrie Lam to pursue an ill-fated extradition bill to create a legal pathway to send Chan back, creating the spark that would ignite the months-long Hong Kong protests.
Chan is due to be released on parole on Wednesday, and has written to the Chief Executive asking the government to help make arrangements for his surrender.
But the Mainland Affairs Council has been highly critical of Hong Kong’s efforts to send Chan to Taipei, accusing the SAR of shirking its responsibility by withholding evidence and refusing to prosecute him here, where Taiwan prosecutors believe he had hatched a plot to murder his girlfriend.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Council also said it remains willing to give evidence to Hong Kong for such a trial.
But the SAR Government insists there is no further legal pathway here to seek redress for Poon’s death, saying the “Department of Justice has thoroughly and comprehensively considered the Police's investigation and the evidence collected, and confirmed that there was only enough evidence to prosecute Chan for money laundering offences, and not other offences including attempting to commit murder or the so-called "willfully plan to commit homicide".
A government spokesman also dismissed allegations that Chan was somehow manipulated to surrender, or that his decision to turn himself in was a result of political maneouvering.
“We express the deepest regret for the groundless and fabricated allegations of "inadequate investigation", "indifferent attitude towards pursuing the charge of homicide", as well as "inaction in exercising the jurisdiction of Hong Kong's Courts", the spokesman added.
The statement said the government continues to be willing to help the Taiwanese authorities pursue the case within the legal limits of the city, should Taiwan request any assistance. However, the spokesman reiterated that there is no law that allows Hong Kong to "pursue any criminal juridical assistance with Taiwan."
The spokesman noted that authorities in Taiwan had issued an arrest warrant on Chan in December 2018 which remains effective.
“It is the practice of all jurisdictions around the world that a person wanted for crime must be apprehended with no delay so that investigation and prosecution could be pursued in order to uphold the rule of law and justice. .. The HKSAR Government hopes that Taiwan will take positive step to receive a self-surrendered person wanted by them in a pragmatic manner”, he said.
'Taiwan won't accept return of murder suspect'
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