Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) Taiwan's top policymaking body on China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said Sunday the government will not lift its recently imposed travel ban on a Hong Kong citizen wanted for murder in Taiwan, unless the Hong Kong authorities agree to share more information on the case.
Hong Kong citizen Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳), is the chief suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing (潘曉穎) when the pair were traveling in Taiwan in February 2018.
Chan returned to Hong Kong before police in Taiwan had a chance to investigate the crime, but once Taiwanese authorities identified him as a suspect they issued an arrest warrant and sought his return to face trial in Taiwan.
However, the lack of an extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong made that impossible.
In Hong Kong, Chan was sentenced to 29-months in prison for stealing from his late 20-year-old girlfriend who was also from Hong Kong, but due to a lack of evidence regarding the murder, is scheduled to be released from prison on Oct. 23 after his sentence was cut short due to a plea bargain.
Rev. Canon Peter Douglas Koon (管浩鳴) of the Hong Kong Anglican Church recently told CNA that Chan is willing to return to Taiwan to assist with the murder case probe and he would accompany him.
According to local media reports, Taiwan's National Immigration Agency (NIA) had confirmed that Koon applied to enter Taiwan with Chan by filing an online application Friday.
However, as Koon is also a member of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a political legislative advisory body to Chinese government, the NIA said it has restricted Koon's visit for security reasons, according to the reports.
Chan is also listed on the travel ban, the reports said.
They need to personally visit Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong to make the travel application themselves and pass the screening process before the government will consider lifting the ban, the reports quoted NIA as saying.
However, when a CNA reporter tried to confirm with the NIA when the ban was imposed and who was on the list, the NIA declined to comment, referring the reporter to MAC.
Commenting on the issue, the MAC said in a statement Sunday that the Hong Kong side needs to first present more evidence regarding the murder case as part of bilateral judicial cooperation process, before Taiwan will lift the travel ban on Koon and Chan.
Local media reports indicate Taiwan prosecutors are now arguing that Chan planned the alleged murder before he and Poon visited Taiwan and need more information from the Hong Kong side for the probe to continue. But it was not immediately clear if this is the position of prosecutors in Taiwan or the MAC.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's Ministry of Justice has reiterated its stance in asking the Hong Kong authorities to keep Chan behind bars and pursue homicide charges against him in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two sides, despite the Hong Kong police saying they do not have sufficient evidence to charge Chan with murder.
In part as a response to the murder case, Hong Kong authorities proposed a controversial extradition bill in February this year that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite criminal suspects to China, Taiwan and Macau.
The bill triggered massive protests starting in early June with many in Hong Kong concerned it could undermine human rights by subjecting suspects to China's arbitrary judicial system.
Although Hong Kong authorities announced in September that the bill has been withdrawn, demonstrations in Hong Kong have since morphed into wider protests and become increasingly violent.