The Hong Kong murder suspect whose case triggered last year’s extradition bill crisis has revealed he plans to hand himself over to Taiwan this month , where authorities say they are ready to receive him.
Chan Tong-kai said on Friday he was instructing lawyers to arrange his return to the self-ruled island. He is wanted in Taiwan for the February 2018 killing in Taipei of his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing.
Chan, then 20, came back to Hong Kong after her death, and was jailed for related money-laundering offences.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
He could not be returned to face murder charges because of the lack of an extradition deal between the two jurisdictions, and has been living in a police safe house since his release from jail on October 23 last year.
A spokesman for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council on Friday said that authorities on the self-ruled island had established a special “single window” mechanism to liaise with Hong Kong police and facilitate the process.
Taiwanese authorities were ready, and Chan’s surrender would be handled in accordance with the law, according to the spokesman.
Reverend Canon Peter Koon Ho-ming, who has been assisting the wanted man, sent a voice message – recorded by Chan for Poon’s mother – to the media on Friday.
In the message, Chan said: “I’m Chan Tong-kai, I apologise to you again for what was done to Hiu-wing. I’ve never changed my idea about returning to Taiwan, I’m asking lawyers to arrange for my return to Taiwan. Don’t worry.”
Koon sent a text message to the media, saying: “Tong-kai would like to express his deepest apologies to Poon’s parents, and thanked Poon’s mother for promising that she will ask for leniency and rehabilitation opportunities for him.
“Tong-kai has told his lawyers in Taiwan to get in touch with the relevant authorities to arrange for his return to Taiwan. He hopes that the trip can take place within October.
“The lawyers will make arrangements after the end of the holidays on Monday, and we will inform you all when there is further information.”
His case returned to the spotlight last month when the victim’s mother broke her two-year silence to urge her daughter’s suspected killer to turn himself in.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for Poon’s mother called on Chan to face the press in person, saying it was impossible for them to verify the authenticity of the recorded message.
She also said the mother expected Chan to provide the exact date and time of his intended departure, so she could fulfil her previously made promise of arranging his transport and flight ticket.
The spokeswoman added they did not see the need for Chan to make arrangements via lawyers, as the Taiwanese authorities had long said they were ready to receive him.
Without concrete details, she said: “It was only delay upon delay.”
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted last month that Chan was a free man and there was little the government could do to change that.
The legislation would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which the city does not have an exchange agreement.
The Chan saga also ignited a war of words between Hong Kong and Taiwan ahead of the latter’s presidential election in January, with both sides failing to agree on the process for Chan’s surrender.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong murder suspect who sparked extradition bill crisis ‘essentially a free man’, admits city’s leader Carrie Lam
- Hong Kong protests: murder suspect at centre of extradition bill crisis ‘still committed to Taiwan surrender’, Carrie Lam says