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Taiwan urges Hong Kong to investigate killing that helped stir protests
[HONG KONG] The suspect in a murder case that helped trigger the biggest political crisis in Hong Kong in decades has said he would turn himself in to the authorities in Taiwan, where he is wanted, the Hong Kong government said Friday.
The suspect, Chan Tong Kai, told the Hong Kong police that while on a Valentine's Day trip to Taiwan last year with his girlfriend, Poon Hiu Wing, he strangled her, stuffed her body into a suitcase and hid it near a subway station in Taipei.
Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan, a self-ruled island democracy. The Hong Kong government cited Poon's killing, and the obstacles to sending Chan to Taiwan, when it introduced legislation in February that would have allowed Hong Kong to send criminal suspects to places with which it does not have extradition treaties.
That set off huge protests because one such place is mainland China, where the murky judicial system is under the control of the Communist Party.
Chan, who is now in a Hong Kong prison on a money laundering conviction, says he has decided to surrender himself to Taiwan after his release, the government of Hong Kong said in a statement on Friday. The statement added that the authorities would assist Chan in doing so.
Taiwan's Ministry of Justice, however, called on the Hong Kong authorities to keep investigating Chan. In a statement Thursday, it noted that both the victim and the alleged killer were from Hong Kong, and said other aspects of the crime may have happened in the city, including the planning of the killing.
Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, said last month that she would withdraw the bill, but protests have morphed into broader demands that include expanding direct elections and an investigation into the police's use of force against demonstrators.
A march is planned in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong on Sunday to press for those demands, although the police have officially objected to it. Protesters also plan to call for a reorganisation of the police force, and an end to the ban on masks that Mrs Lam recently enacted, using emergency powers, in an effort to tamp down the demonstrations.
In its statement Thursday, Taiwan said it would provide evidence in Chan's case on a "foundation of equal status, dignity and mutual benefit." Taiwan had previously said it would not agree to Chan's extradition under the contentious legislation, on the grounds that the bill would have treated the self-governed island as a part of China.
Chan has been serving a 29-month sentence for money laundering because he took some of his girlfriend's valuables and used her credit card upon returning to Hong Kong. With good behaviour, his sentence will be shortened, and he is expected to be released as soon as Wednesday.