A Hong Kong priest says he is ready to fly to Taiwan to discuss the surrender of a fugitive murder suspect whose case helped trigger last year’s extradition bill crisis and mass protests.

Chan Tong-kai is accused of murdering his girlfriend Amber Poon during their holiday on the island in 2018, when he was aged 19, before flying back to Hong Kong.

Chan Tong-kai Taiwan murder suspect released prison "October 23"
Chan Tong-kai is released from prison on October 23. Photo: Stand News.

Because Taiwan and Hong Kong have no extradition treaty Chan could not be returned to the country and could only be tried in Hong Kong for money-laundering over money and valuables he took from his girlfriend. He has been free since his release on October 23 last year after serving 18 months in jail.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam cited Chan’s case when pushing last year to pass a controversial extradition bill, which would also have allowed extradition to mainland China. Mass protests against the bill turned into a city-wide pro-democracy campaign and convulsed Hong Kong for months.

The priest, Reverend Peter Koon, has said he will head to Taiwan as soon as coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted to discuss details of Chan’s surrender. Chan has admitted the killing.

Koon said Chan had always intended to turn himself in but the plan was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Taiwan has imposed border restrictions since March and only allows the entry of business travellers.

Peter Koon
Peter Koon. File Photo: inmediahk.net.

Koon said he would fly to Taiwan and discuss details of the case with lawyers after the border is reopened.

Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said Thursday the key factors in the case were the Hong Kong government’s sense of responsibility and whether Chan truly wishes to surrender.

He told reporters at the press briefing that the Criminal Investigation Bureau of Taiwan’s National Police Agency has set up a single window for communication with Hong Kong police regarding the present case.

Lam last year had urged legislators to pass the bill to “plug loopholes” before Chan was released after serving his money-laundering sentence.

Taiwan in response said it did not intend to seek Chan as a suspect in the murder case if Hong Kong passed what it called a politically motivated extradition bill. But Taipei said it was willing to provide assistance.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.