TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said on Saturday it has been informed by Hong Kong police that the suspect in a 2018 murder case in the country has indicated his willingness to surrender himself to Taiwanese law enforcement authorities.
If Chan Tung-kai (陳同佳) enters Taiwan, he will be immediately arrested and sent to the Shihlin District Prosecutors Office, which has jurisdiction over the case, for further investigation, prosecutors said.
A notice issued by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region late Friday indicated Chan has asked for help from the government to return to Taiwan to face trial.
According to the notice, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) received a letter from Chan asking for the Hong Kong government to help him surrender to Taiwan police.
The notice indicated that Taiwan authorities issued a warrant for Chan’s arrest on Dec. 3, 2018, which remains valid for 30 years.
It also said Hong Kong authorities lacks sufficient evidence to charge Chan for a homicide that took place in Taiwan, and since his sentence for theft ends soon, are unable to detain him any longer.
Lam said in an interview with Commercial Radio Hong Kong on Saturday that Chan’s decision is a positive development and deserves wider attention, so the Hong Kong government will assist him return to Taiwan.
Chan, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is suspected of killing his 20-year-old girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing (潘曉穎) when the pair were traveling in Taiwan in February 2018.
Poon’s body was found in a suitcase dumped in a field near a subway station in New Taipei, and Chan has since been listed as a suspect by Taipei district prosecutors.
Chan returned to Hong Kong before police in Taiwan had a chance to investigate the crime. Once Taiwanese authorities suspected Chan, they issued an arrest warrant and sought his return to face trial in Taiwan.
However, the lack of an extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong made that impossible.
Chan is currently scheduled to be released from prison on Oct. 23 after serving a 29-month sentence for stealing from his girlfriend after returning to Hong Kong, a sentence that was cut short due to a plea bargain.
On Thursday, Taiwan’s Justice Ministry urged Hong Kong in a statement to go a step further by keeping him in jail and pursuing charges for Poon’s murder in Taiwan.
The ministry said Hong Kong has jurisdiction over the case as both the defendant and the victim are Hong Kong citizens and pledged to “provide relevant evidence collected in Taiwan on the basis of equality, dignity and reciprocity.”
The MOJ also described the murder Chan allegedly committed as a “crime under universal jurisdiction” that can be tried anywhere.
A new twist in the case emerged Friday when Rev. Canon Peter Douglas Koon (管浩鳴) of the Hong Kong Anglican Church said he had succeeded in persuading Chan to turn himself in to Taiwan authorities.
However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which is in charge of cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges, questioned Hong Kong’s real intent in giving up jurisdiction over the case.
The MAC urged the Hong Kong government not to shirk its responsibility, saying that Taiwan could provide evidence relating to the case, to ensure Chan faces his day in court for the murder.
Meanwhile, media in Hong Kong, claimed political maneuvering is behind Chan’s decision to turn himself in, claiming as evidence that Koon is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
In part as a response to the murder case, Hong Kong authorities proposed a controversial extradition bill in February this year that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite criminal suspects to China, Taiwan and Macau.
The bill triggered massive protests starting in early June with many in Hong Kong concerned it could undermine human rights by subjecting suspects to China’s arbitrary judicial system.
Although Lam announced in September that the bill has been withdrawn, demonstrations in Hong Kong have since morphed into wider protests and become increasingly violent.
By Stanley Cheung, Miu Tsung-han, Liu Chien-pang and Frances Huang