A Hong Kong murder suspect’s plan to return to Taiwan and hand himself in would not change after President Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election, a priest who has been helping him said on Saturday.
Reverend Canon Peter Koon Ho-ming also revealed that more information about Chan Tong-kai’s plans could be released soon.
The 20-year-old is wanted on the self-governing island for killing his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taipei in February 2018. Chan returned to Hong Kong after her death, and served time on related money-laundering charges. He could not be sent back to face murder charges, for lack of an extradition deal between the two jurisdictions.
Asked before election results came in if the suspect would change his mind if Tsai kept her job, Koon said: “Since his release, Chan has never left Hong Kong or changed his mind about returning to Taiwan to turn himself in. This would not be affected by whoever wins the election.”
“We hope to disclose more information soon,” he added.
Chan’s case helped spark Hong Kong’s current political crisis, when the local government proposed an extradition bill to allow fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with which the city lacks a formal agreement, including Taiwan.
The legislation triggered mass protests – which are still ongoing, after seven months – and has since been withdrawn.
President Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, has played up the Hong Kong protests as a cautionary tale of Beijing’s encroachment. She was re-elected on Saturday, seeing off the challenges of Han Kuo-yu of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang and James Soong Chu-yu, from the People First Party.
Shortly before Chan was released from Pik Uk Correctional Institution on October 23, after 19 months in custody, Koon revealed that the suspect, whom he had been visiting for months, had offered to turn himself in.
But the revelation sparked another political storm, by setting Hong Kong and Taipei at loggerheads over how Chan should face justice. The city’s government has accused Taiwan of politicising the case.
Days after the release, Koon said Chan would consider postponing his voluntary surrender until after the presidential election, citing fears that he would not be treated fairly.
Chan, now a free man, has been living in a local safe house provided by police.
Last month, Taiwan authorities hit out at their Hong Kong counterparts again for rejecting their request for legal help in a separate case, after the island’s police arrested a man in connection with a robbery in Hong Kong. Taiwanese law allows suspects in robberies committed in Hong Kong and Macau to be tried in the island’s courts.
The Hong Kong government said it resented what it said were irresponsible statements, noting that there was no law permitting judicial assistance and transfers of criminals between the two sides.