Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Justice has asked Hong Kong authorities to keep the main suspect in a gory murder case in Taiwan behind bars and pursue homicide charges against him in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two sides.
Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳) is currently scheduled to be released from prison on Oct. 23 after his 29-month sentence for stealing from his late 20-year-old girlfriend surnamed Poon was cut short due to a plea bargain.
With Chan soon to be released, the Justice Ministry urged Hong Kong in a statement Thursday to go a step further by keeping Chan in jail and pursue charges against him for Poon's murder in Taiwan in February 2018.
It argued that Hong Kong has jurisdiction over the case given that both the defendant and the victim are Hong Kong citizens and pledged to "provide relevant evidence collected in Taiwan on the basis of equality, dignity and reciprocity," according to the statement.
Describing the murder Chan allegedly committed as a "crime under universal jurisdiction" that can be tried anywhere, the ministry urged Hong Kong law-enforcement authorities to "continue their investigation in the case to bring justice to the victim and her family."
Chan, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is suspected of murdering Poon when the two were traveling together in Taiwan in February 2018.
Poon's body was found in a suitcase dumped in a field near a subway station in New Taipei, and Chan has since been listed as a wanted suspect by Taipei district prosecutors.
Chan returned to Hong Kong before police in Taiwan had a chance to investigate the crime. Once Taiwanese authorities suspected Chan, they initially hoped Hong Kong would return him to Taiwan to face a trial.
That was not possible, however, because of the lack of an extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Back home, however, Chan was arrested on March 13, 2018 for stealing Poon's belongings, including a bank card that led to his 29-month sentence which has since been shortened.
A new twist in the case emerged Friday when Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily reported that Chan was willing to travel to Taiwan and turn himself in, citing unnamed sources who said the young man was persuaded by a chaplain to make the decision.
Rev. Canon Peter Douglas Koon (管浩鳴) of the Hong Kong Anglican Church confirmed Chan's decision, and said the young man has commissioned Taiwanese lawyers to help him with the matter.
Koon told CNA that he has paid several visits to Chan in prison over the past six months and that Chan has confessed to him that he regrets what he has done.
He also said Chan would apologize to the victim's family while confessing that killing his girlfriend was not something he wanted to do.
"People can make mistakes," said Koon, expressing hope that there's a chance for Chan to start a new life.
The Justice Ministry issued another statement Friday in response to the report in which it simply reiterated its position on the case.
The case provided an excuse for Hong Kong authorities to propose an extradition bill that would allow them to extradite criminal suspects to China, Taiwan and Macau.
The bill sparked massive protests starting in early June that continue to this day because of fears it could threaten the human rights of Hong Kong residents and people passing through Hong Kong by subjecting them to China's arbitrary judicial system.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the bill as the protesters had demanded in early September, but by that time the protest movement had escalated into a massive civil movement calling for true democracy in the special region of China.