Murder suspect who triggered Hong Kong protests is a 'free man' with 'free will': Carrie Lam

Murder suspect who triggered Hong Kong protests is a 'free man' with 'free will': Carrie Lam

Chan Tong-kai is greeted by Reverend Peter Koon Ho-ming
Chan Tong-kai is greeted by Reverend Peter Koon Ho-ming as he walks out the Pik Uk Prison in Hong Kong, Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Philip Fong)

HONG KONG: The murder suspect whose actions inadvertently triggered months of violent protests in Hong Kong is a “free man" with a "free will”, said the city's chief executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday (Oct 29).

Mrs Lam was asked why Chan Tong-kai, who is wanted in Taiwan for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing, has not surrendered to Taiwan after his early release from prison in Hong Kong last Wednesday.

Chan, 20, had sent a letter to Mrs Lam saying that he has "decided to surrender himself to Taiwan" after he is discharged prison and had asked for the government's assistance in doing so. 

READ: Murder suspect walks free as Hong Kong, Taiwan authorities clash

When asked if the Hong Kong government will "provide any assistance", Mrs Lam said: "He is a free man, so our facilitation has to fully respect that he’s a free man, he has a free will. 

"At the working level, the law enforcement agency of Hong Kong has approached the law enforcement agency in Taiwan to see what arrangements could be put in place to facilitate his return to Taiwan."

She confirmed that Chan had sent a letter expressing his determination to turn himself in to Taiwan and to "accept the responsibility for what he has done". 

She added that the matter has been “complicated by the very different and sometimes confusing messages coming from the other side”.

“Chan and his family are probably trying to clarify some of these messages before he could make up his mind on the timing to go back to Taiwan. Those clarifications are necessary in order to ensure a fair trial,” she explained.

"Meanwhile, because he was also worried about his safety, we have put in place some appropriate arrangements to ensure his safety and it is not proper for me to go into details."

Chan is wanted for the murder of his girlfriend during a holiday in Taiwan in February last year. On Dec 3, 2018, Taiwan issued an arrest warrant for Chan.

He fled back to Hong Kong, where Taiwanese police have been unable to apprehend him because of the lack of an extradition agreement. The case triggered a proposal by the Hong Kong government to propose an extradition Bill that would have allowed the city to extradite suspects to any territory, including mainland China.

The now-scrapped Bill was met with anger and led to months of violent protests as part of a wider movement calling for more autonomy from Beijing.

READ: Killer who sparked Hong Kong protests agrees to surrender to Taiwan

TAIWAN WANTS EXTRADITION

Self-ruled Taiwan wants an extradition, not a voluntary surrender, of the suspected murderer.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement it was "unbelievable" that Chan could be expected to take a flight to Taiwan by himself, "completely ignoring the safety of passengers on the same flights in order to serve the political arrangement of a 'surrender'".

The council said Taiwan had repeatedly asked for legal cooperation.

Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee said that Taiwan was obstructing the case for "political reasons" and Chan should be free to go to Taiwan and surrender himself, as he has offered.

READ: Hong Kong shops shutter as months of protest darken economic gloom

RESTORING ORDER IN HONG KONG

At the media session on Tuesday, Mrs Lam was asked about the injunction to ban the doxxing of police officers and their families and why it did not include "the wider general public".

She said: “There is also no dispute that the main target of this doxxing is the police – is the police officers.

“I gather that (more than) 2,000 policemen and maybe their families have been put to that sort of intimidation.

“For the Secretary for Justice and the Commissioner of Police to take that route of applying for an interim injunction is understandable because we don’t have the necessary effective legislation to tackle that issue, so interim injunction is one of the legal means to address the problem.”

READ: Hong Kong enters recession, official says, as protests again erupt in flames

Responding to a question about additional emergency measures to restore peace, Mrs Lam said people should reject violence so that authorities will "have a chance to put an end to this extreme violence".

"If there are a large number of people legitimising the violence, or even glorifying the violence, I’m afraid it will make it even more difficult for us to tackle this situation," she said. 

“The most effective solution is to tackle the violence head-on,” the chief executive added.

“For the government to resort to measures that will appease the violent rioters, I don't think that is a solution.

“If there are a large number of people legitimising the violence, or even glorifying the violence, I’m afraid it will make it even more difficult for us to tackle this situation,” she said.

Source: CNA/aa(mi)

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