Taiwan insists on meeting HK police before arranging visa for murder suspect, sources say

24-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Authorities in Taipei have insisted that police from both Hong Kong and Taiwan meet to exchange evidence and sort out travel details before Chan Tong-kai, a murder suspect wanted on the self-ruled island, can apply for a tailor-made visa to turn himself in, sources have told the Post.

The detailed requirements laid out by the Taiwan side were made known for the first time since Taipei announced it would allow the 22-year-old Chan who has confessed to murdering his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing there two years ago apply for a visa at its office in Hong Kong.

The Post has learned that Chan is also required to apply for the visa in person, and will be given a special travel document rather than the type granted to tourists.

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Poon’s mother, who has been campaigning for Chan to be returned to Taiwan to face justice, volunteered on Thursday to be the “middleman” in arranging a meeting between the two law enforcement agencies in light of the latest development.

“I would like to fix a date for both the Taiwan and Hong Kong police,” she said. “Both sides have my phone number and I hope they will give me a call tomorrow.”

Poon, who was 20 at the time, was murdered during a trip she took with Chan to Taiwan two years ago.

Chan immediately fled back to Hong Kong, and ended up serving time in a local prison for money-laundering offences related to the killing.

However, local courts lack the jurisdiction to try him for the murder itself, and the government has no legal framework for extraditing him to Taiwan. Since his release from prison on October 23 last year, Chan has been living in a police safe house.

Chan’s case became the impetus last year for the government’s ill-fated extradition bill, which would have allowed renditions of criminal suspects not only to Taiwan, but to mainland China as well.

The deeply unpopular bill triggered a months-long anti-government protest movement demanding not just the withdrawal of the legislation, but greater police accountability and universal suffrage, among other things.

The prospect of Chan’s return to Taiwan, however, has been complicated by Taiwan’s effectively insisting that Hong Kong engage with it on a diplomatic level, while Hong Kong has insisted that to do so would be impossible without a formal framework.

Taiwan, for its part, said it had set up a one-off formal mechanism for communicating with Hong Kong about the case, but city authorities have reportedly declined to make use of it, saying that in their eyes, Chan was already a free man.

Hong Kong security chief John Lee Ka-chiu on Wednesday said that the formal mechanism was unnecessary, insisting on “working-level cooperation” between the two police forces instead.

He also slammed Taiwan for “making trouble out of nothing” with unreasonable demands, and pointedly noted that the last time Hong Kong asked Taiwan for a suspect, it did not seek the exchange of any evidence.

In response, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council replied that Lee’s “emotion-charged” remarks had demonstrated Hong Kong’s “passive, evasive attitude”, and an eagerness to shirk responsibility over Chan’s case.

A spokesman from the Security Bureau said the Hong Kong government had already made clear the legal restrictions it faced.

He said evidence and witness statements gathered for Chan’s case would only be applicable to cases heard in Hong Kong because the government was not able to amend Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, alongside the extradition bill last year, to include Taiwan.

“Hong Kong does not have a mechanism for mutual legal assistance with Taiwan and the special administrative region government cannot break the law,” he said.

He also said surrendering and offering legal assistance were two separate issues, accusing Taiwan of failing to allow Chan to enter the island.

Meanwhile, Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Chan’s release from a Hong Kong prison, and the deadline for him to take advantage of an ultimatum issued by Poon’s mother, in which she promised to offer mitigating testimony on his behalf at trial if he surrendered himself by October 23.

On Thursday night, Poon’s mother reiterated her ultimatum: “If you still have not travelled to Taiwan before midnight tomorrow… I will no longer mitigate for you.”



Category: Taiwan

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