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Hong Kong Suspect in Taiwan Murder Case Promises to Turn Himself In

2019-10-23 -- Chan Tong-kai, who is wanted by Taiwan authorities on suspicion of murdering his Hong Kong girlfriend while the pair were on vacation in the democratic island, was released from a Hong Kong prison on Wednesday amid an ongoing row between Taipei and Hong Kong over his fate.

Chan spoke to reporters soon after his release from Pik Uk prison, telling journalists he had committed a "monstrous wrong."

Chan bowed and repeatedly apologized to Poon Hiu Wing's family.

"I understand I've committed a monstrous wrong and brought enormous pain to Hiu Wing's family. I've been feeling guilty all along," he said.

"I'm willing to surrender myself to Taiwan and serve my sentence there for what I did wrong," he said. "I hope Hiu-wing's family will be relieved and Hiu-wing can rest in peace."

Since he arrived back in Hong Kong, Chan has allegedly confessed to killing his pregnant girlfriend Poon in Taipei last year.

He was jailed in Hong Kong, which has no extradition agreement with Taiwan, for stealing Poon's money and valuables.

"Lastly, to Hong Kong people and society, ... I am sorry. I hope I'll be forgiven and given a chance to start afresh and contribute to society," Chan told journalists before leaving in the company of Anglican priest Peter Koon.

Koon said Chan wouldn't be leaving for Taiwan on Wednesday, however.

"I think it is important to ensure that there is a fair trial," Koon said, warning that Chan shouldn't be used to score political points. "This is very important."

Chan's release comes after the Hong Kong government refused a request from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council for permission for its staff to fly to the city to escort Chan back to Taipei.

Hong Kong's handling of the case questioned

Officials called the request "totally unacceptable", saying Taiwan could arrest Chan when he arrived – if it cancelled an earlier ban on him being allowed in through immigration.

Taiwan had said earlier it would not take him unless Hong Kong offered full judicial cooperation in the case – including providing its police force with any evidence for the murder case under legitimate transfer procedures.

The MAC said in a statement on Wednesday that the uncertainty around Chan's movements now he is free wouldn't have happened if Hong Kong had granted its request.

"We have used our best efforts to demonstrate our sincere willingness to cooperate with the Hong Kong authorities, but they have completely ignored us, and have implemented the rules in such a way as to mean that others are harmed," MAC deputy chief Chiu Chui-cheng told reporters.

"The responsibility for any negative consequences should be borne by the Hong Kong government," Chiu said.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam cited the lack of extradition arrangements in the Chan case as a key reason behind her plan to change Hong Kong's Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, an amendment that has sparked mass public protests and ongoing resistance since early June because it raised fears Hong Kong citizens could be sent to mainland China to face its politicized and opaque justice system.

Lam's administration on Wednesday formally withdrew the hated amendments, but protesters are also making four other demands that include an independent inquiry into police violence and fully democratic elections for her job, and for the city's Legislative Council (LegCo).

Taiwan was ruled as a Japanese colony in the 50 years prior to the end of World War II, but was handed back to the 1911 Republic of China under the Kuomintang (KMT) government as part of Tokyo's post-war reparation deal.

The KMT made its capital there after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists that led to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

While the Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan as an "inalienable"part of its territory, Taiwan has never been ruled by the current regime in Beijing, nor has it ever formed part of the People's Republic of China.

The Republic of China has remained a sovereign and independent state since 1911, now ruling just four islands: Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

The island began a transition to democracy following the death of KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek's son, President Chiang Ching-kuo, in January 1988, starting with direct elections to the legislature in the early 1990s and culminating in the first direct election of a president, Lee Teng-hui, in 1996.

Reported by Man Hoi-tsan and Chung Kuang-cheng for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi and Hsia Hsiao-hwa for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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