《TAIPEI TIMES》 MAC asks HK to hand suspect over
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng holds a news conference in Taipei yesterday about the council’s handling of a Hong Kong suspect wanted for murder in Taiwan. Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
OFFICIAL ROUTE ONLY: The premier said that Taiwan would not be duped by China, which likely wants to use the case to justify the withdrawn Hong Kong extradition bill
By Chung Li-hua and Sean Lin / Staff reporters
The Mainland Affairs Council （MAC） yesterday said that it had contacted the Hong Kong government to ask its permission to hand murder suspect Chan Tong-kai （陳同佳） over to Taiwanese prosecutors and police sent to the territory, so that he could stand trial in Taiwan.
The council made the request by telephone and wrote the Hong Kong government a letter, MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng （邱垂正） told a news conference in Taipei.
The Hong Kong and Taiwanese governments both have jurisdiction over the case, but the former has priority, Chiu said.
The Taiwanese government would not forfeit its right to try Chan, he said, apparently responding to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s （KMT） criticism that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） would turn Taiwan into a “crime haven” if it said that it would not accept Chan entering the nation as a free man.
Chan, who is suspected of killing his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing （潘曉穎） in Taiwan in February last year before returning to Hong Kong, reportedly said that he would be willing to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities once released from prison in Hong Kong today.
He was serving a 29-month sentence related to the theft of Poon’s belongings.
The incident was one of the contributing factors behind the Hong Kong government’s proposal to implement an anti-extradition bill this year.
Seeing as Hong Kong is reluctant to handle the case, which is regrettable, Taipei has devised a plan to resolve the matter pragmatically, Chiu said.
“If the Hong Kong government will not investigate, we will,” he said.
The government would review the case on the condition that Hong Kong formally extradites Chan through mutual judicial assistance, Premier Su Tseng-chang （蘇貞昌） said earlier yesterday.
Su made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting at the Legislative Yuan, where he was asked by reporters whether it would mean that the mutual judicial assistance that Taipei had requested from Hong Kong had been denied if Chan was simply allowed to travel to Taiwan.
Authorities on both sides have jurisdiction over the case, but since the suspect and the victim’s family members are in Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s judiciary should try the case and hold the suspect to account, rather than creating a “window period” in the judicial process by allowing him to travel at will, Su said.
If Hong Kong wants to engage in mutual judicial assistance, it should subject Chan to questioning and supply Taiwan’s judiciary with any records or evidence it has collected, the premier said, adding that Taiwan’s judiciary would then try Chan based on that information.
If Chan comes to Taiwan, it would not be for a health checkup, and the judiciary cannot try him based solely on his testimony when a substantial amount of evidence is in Hong Kong, he added.
Hong Kong has made a U-turn regarding the case, as since last year it has snubbed the nation’s repeated calls for mutual legal assistance.
As the Hong Kong government is controlled by Beijing, Su said that the nation would not be duped by China, which likely wants to send Chan to Taiwan to justify the withdrawn extradition bill.
He urged the Hong Kong government not to attempt to resolve the issue through political manipulation.
Later during an question-and-answer session with People First Party Legislator Chou Chen Hsiu-hsia （周陳秀霞）, Su said that Chan had planned the murder before coming to Taiwan last year.
As of press time last night, the council was still awaiting a response from the Hong Kong government.