A pro-establishment lawmaker has visited the man at the centre of the extradition bill storm and has tried to persuade him to surrender to Taiwan authorities.
Chan Tong-kai is wanted on the self-ruled island in connection with the death of his pregnant girlfriend, but cannot be transferred there because the two places lack an extradition agreement.
Presently in jail in Hong Kong after being found guilty of money-laundering, Chan could be released as early as October, at which point he would be free to leave Hong Kong.
Ann Chiang Lai-wan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she visited Chan in Pik Uk Correctional Institution last Friday, and had a 40-minute conversation with him.
Her visit came as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the extradition bill was “dead”. Lam’s announcement came after weeks of protests involving Hongkongers opposed to an amendment that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to Taiwan, mainland China and Macau.
The death of Poon Hiu-wing, who was killed during a holiday to Taiwan with Chan, prompted Lam to push through her extradition bill. The city’s leader argued the legal loophole that allowed Chan to remain in Hong Kong needed to be closed.
Poon’s father reportedly wrote to Lam last month and urged the chief executive to consider alternative proposals, including a negotiation with Taiwan for a one-off transfer, so Chan could stand trial.
Lam’s office would not discuss details of the correspondence between the city’s leader and the father.
Chiang’s visit only became public on Saturday, after the lawmaker released a statement detailing her visit. However, she said because of privacy concerns she could not disclose Chan’s response to her appeal.
She said she applied for the visit two weeks earlier, writing to the Hong Kong Correctional Services in her capacity as a lawmaker.
On the same day as her visit, Chiang’s party met Lam and suggested the government should urge Chan to turn himself over to Taiwan authorities.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah was asked on Saturday if this was the only solution left for the government. “The government has nothing to add right now,” she said.
Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to draft their own bills to resolve the matter.
Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung withdraw his bill, which would allow the city to transfer criminal suspects to Taiwan, but not mainland China or Macau, hours after his proposal sparked fierce debate online on Thursday.
The bill of the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, which involved giving local courts extraterritorial powers over crimes such as murder and genocide, was shot down by the government.