Murder Suspect Who Sparked the HK Protests to Be Released in Hong Kong

Chan Tong-kai

Chan Tong-kai, the Hong Kong man who confessed to killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan in February 2018, is scheduled for release on money-laundering charges on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old, whose case ignited Hong Kong’s extradition bill — and the escalating protests against it — fled to the city after the killing, effectively evading prosecution in Taiwan.

Chan Tong-kai (Left) and Poon Hui-wing (Right)

Chan and his girlfriend, Poon Hui-wing, traveled to Taiwan on Feb. 13, 2018 to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day. However, only Chan returned home four days later, which worried Poon’s parents.

Hong Kong police arrested Chan on March 13, 2018. He admitted to strangling Poon to death, explaining that he did it because she was pregnant with another man’s child.

Chan stuffed Poon’s remains inside a suitcase, which he dumped on a grass bank in New Taipei City. He then flew back to Hong Kong.

Poon’s death deserves justice, but the fact that Chan was already in Hong Kong’s custody posed a legal dilemma: the city did not have access to evidence. Taiwan, on the other hand, did not have access to Chan, who may only be retrieved through an extradition treaty.

Chan and Poon arrived at a hotel after midnight on Feb. 17, 2018.

Chan managed to do away with a murder trial, but he still faced related money-laundering charges. As a result, he was sentenced to 29 months, but time served prior and good behavior contributed to his scheduled release on Oct. 23, Ming Pao News reported.

Ahead of his release, Chan wrote to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, offering to surrender himself to Taiwanese authorities. However, this turn of events has raised suspicions that he was probably coerced for political reasons.

Poon was last seen with Chan checking in at a room.

“The decision of the Taiwan homicide suspect Chan to surrender himself to Taiwan is purely out of his own free will,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement on Sunday. “The allegations that Chan was manipulated to surrender or his decision was out of political maneuvering are totally groundless.”

It added, “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government hopes that Taiwan will take positive steps to receive a self-surrendered person wanted by them in a pragmatic manner. We will offer all necessary assistance within the legal limits of Hong Kong.”

Chan left the hotel before noon on the same day, with Poon’s remains presumably in the pink suitcase.

Taiwan, which initially rejected Chan’s offer of surrender — and proposed a mutual legal assistance mechanism to deal with the matter — sent a letter to Hong Kong asking for help in obtaining Chan and his confession.

“If the Hong Kong side gives up their jurisdiction and confirms that this cannot be reversed, then Taiwan will handle the case,” said Chiu Chui-cheng, Vice President of the Mainland Affairs Control, according to the South China Morning Post.

Chan is expected in Taiwan soon after his release on Wednesday.

“We hope the Hong Kong side will assist our officers in traveling to the city to identify and bring back the suspect, so to ensure that the suspect will not get away with his crimes,” Chiu added.

Poon’s parents started worrying when Chan returned without their daughter.

On Tuesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen denied allegations that her government was playing politics in the case.

“It was clear who put politics before the law when it did not handle what it should handle,” she said. “The Taiwan government is willing to take up its responsibility, but the Hong Kong government must provide the necessary help, or the judicial authorities here will have no way to gather full and complete information and evidence.”

She added, “Since Hong Kong people visit many countries, and if similar things happen in other countries and Hong Kong continues to deal with the cases in such a manner, it would be a serious headache for other governments.”

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