A Hong Kong Anglican reverend has said that a murder suspect whose case sparked the extradition law crisis earlier this year is willing to surrender himself to Taiwan after he is released from prison.
Reverend Peter Koon said on Friday that he actively visited Chan Tong-kai, the 20-year-old suspect to be released next week, for six months. Chan agreed to the move last month after some persuasion, Koon said.
Koon said Chan admitted the murder of his girlfriend in Taiwan and understood that he might face more than ten years in prison, but he was willing to take responsibility for his mistake.
He said he believed Taiwan would not hand Chan a death sentence because Chan will surrender himself, and he is young. Chan has signed a letter of authorisation with a Taiwanese lawyer, according to Koon: “At first he was undecided. Slowly, I spoke to him and persuaded him, with his family’s support. His family has said he should go back [to Taiwan] for a fair trial, and he should not escape from this incident.”
While under police caution, Chan admitted to killing his 20-year-old Hong Kong girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan last February. Chan fled back to Hong Kong after the incident, but authorities were unable to charge him with murder in local courts and there was no extradition agreement with Taiwan.
“When he comes back [to Hong Kong], he will have an opportunity to become a new person,” Koon said. He added that Chan was baptised in prison, and he will stay with his family for a short time and handle visa issues before heading to Taiwan.
He said Chan understood his case had sparked disturbances in society and hoped his surrender would alleviate them: “He was very unhappy… I told him not to feel too guilty, because what happened in Hong Kong were unrelated to him.”
The Hong Kong government proposed a new extradition law in order to send Chan to Taiwan for trial, but the bill controversially included provisions to send suspects to mainland China, sparking mass protests. The demonstrations, now in their 19th week, have evolved into a wider movement seeking democracy and accountability for alleged police brutality.
Chan was scheduled to be released next Wednesday, after serving a 29-month sentence for money laundering in relation to cash and valuables he took from his deceased girlfriend.
Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker Priscilla Leung, also a barrister, said the Hong Kong government should send an observer to Taiwan to ensure a fair trial.
Leung said it was likely that Taiwan would not hand Chan a death sentence if he surrendered himself.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice has urged the Hong Kong authorities to continue to keep Chan in custody. The ministry said that it understood Hong Kong authorities had gathered evidence that Chan planned the murder in Hong Kong before arriving in Taiwan, meaning he could face trial in Hong Kong.
It said it would provide relevant evidence on an equal, dignified and mutually beneficial basis, if Hong Kong continued to pursue the case.
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