The suspect in the murder case that led to the realization of the controversial extradition law in Hong Kong was released on Wednesday. Twenty-year-old Chan Tong-kai was in prison for a year and a half for money laundering that he had stolen from the victim.
Chan says he killed his girlfriend on vacation in Taiwan last year, after telling her that she was pregnant with her ex-boyfriend and showing a video in which she had sex with another man. He was arrested shortly after the discovery of her body in Hong Kong, where the couple came from.
The man cannot be extradited to Taiwan because there is no extradition treaty. Hong Kong falls under China as a special administrative region and Beijing regards Taiwan as an apostate province. The extradition bill submitted, which was formally withdrawn on Wednesday, would also allow extradition to China.
Chan could not be tried in Hong Kong in the murder case, but was convicted of laundering money he had stolen from his dead girlfriend's bank account. He did this in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. He was sentenced to 29 months in prison for money laundering.
Conflict over continuation of murder case
Chan has offered to voluntarily surrender to the Taiwanese authorities and plead guilty in the case of the murdered woman. He speaks on Wednesday of an "unforgivable error" and hopes that he can meet the victims' relatives by reporting himself. However, Hong Kong and Taiwan are in conflict over the further handling of the murder case.
The Taiwanese authorities refuse to cooperate with the surrender. They believe that an extradition without legal assistance affects their sovereignty. The region would thus fall under the Chinese 'one country, two systems' principle, which also applies to Hong Kong and Macau. In addition, they do not believe that Chan himself takes a flight to Taiwan.
Taiwan wants to send agents to Hong Kong to pick up Chan, but Hong Kong finds this unacceptable and disrespectful due to the lack of legal agreements. "There is no such thing as a surrender," said Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. "Just an arrest. We will continue to ask the Hong Kong Government for legal assistance. We also ask them not to evade this issue."
Hong Kong claims that Taiwan is hampering the murder case for political reasons. The extradition law in Hong Kong was drafted after the Taiwanese authorities asked for help. In the end Taiwan refused to cooperate with the possible extradition of Chan after there was great unrest in Hong Kong about the bill.
Criticism of Hong Kong leader
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is heavily criticized for the way she handled the extradition bill. According to Financial Times , the central government has plans to replace it with an interim director, but according to Beijing this is just a rumor.
After Lam announced that she would withdraw the bill after four months of unrest, she repeated her intention again. With an extradition law, she wanted to prevent Hong Kong from becoming a refuge for criminals. Opponents, however, see her as the implementer of China's plans.
The proposal has officially been canceled since Wednesday. Protesters came with five demands, including the repeal of the controversial extradition law. An end to the unrest is not in sight. "Five demands, no more", the protesters say. The four remaining requirements are: independent investigation of police violence, taking back the word 'riots' with regard to the protests, suspension of the prosecution of demonstrators and extension of the right to vote.
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