Hong Kong murder suspect whose case sparked political crisis released from prison

Hong Kong murder suspect whose case sparked political crisis released from prisonChan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case sparked a political crisis in Hong Kong, has been released after serving 18 months in prison. Mr Chan, a Hong Kong resident, is suspected of murdering his girlfriend, Poon Hui-wing, while on holiday in Taiwan last year. By the time Ms Poon’s body had been discovered hidden among park bushes, Mr Chan was back in Hong Kong, where he later confessed to the crime. He could not be easily extradited to face trial in Taiwan, despite requests from the island’s authorities, because no formal extradition agreement exists. Instead, Mr Chan, 20, was charged in Hong Kong with the lesser crime of money laundering, which landed him in prison. As his case unfolded, the Hong Kong government launched a new proposal in February that would explicitly permit extradition to other jurisdictions, and crucially, allow foreign and Chinese nationals – even those transiting through the city – to be sent to mainland China for trial. Chan Tong-kai, left, talks to the media as he is released from prison in Hong Kong Credit: AP City leaders said the extradition bill would plug a legal loophole highlighted by Mr Chan’s case. But the proposal immediately triggered backlash amongst activists, lawyers, and the business community, over concerns that exposure to China’s murky legal system would weaken Hong Kong’s longstanding autonomy. On Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities formally withdrew the bill. But after months of mass protests, activists have said it is far too little, too late. Violence is escalating, and protesters are demanding Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam to resign and for an independent inquiry into police handling of the protests. Hong Kong protests | Read more Ms Lam has thus far stood her ground, and China’s ruling Communist Party has thrown its weight behind her publicly. But as the crisis drags on, it appears Beijing may be starting to lose faith in her ability to handle the situation. The Chinese government is mulling plans to replace Ms Lam with an interim chief executive next year to sit out the remainder of her term, which will end in 2022, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.    China's foreign ministry in Beijing, however, dismissed the report as mere rumours. “I want to say sorry to Poon Hiu-wing’s family,” Mr Chan told reporters Wednesday morning upon release. “I am willing to surrender myself to Taiwan and to face trial and serve the jail sentence there.” Authorities in Hong Kong and Taiwan, however, have yet to agree on how Mr Chan will travel to Taiwan. The Telegraph has learned that a group of informal mediators attempted Tuesday night to secure an 11th-hour compromise for escorting Mr Chan from Hong Kong to face trial in Taiwan, though Ms Lam’s office did not respond to the proposal.



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