Hong Kong releases murder suspect Chan Tong-kai who sparked extradition riots

23 October 2019, 05:09 | Updated: 23 October 2019, 05:29

The murder suspect whose case prompted Hong Kong's extradition protests has been released.

Chan Tong-kai is wanted by Taiwanese authorities for the alleged murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taipei in February 2019.

The 20-year-old fled to his native Hong Kong before Ms Poon's body was discovered.

Because Hong Kong has no extradition bill with Taiwan, he could not be sent there.

Instead, he was tried for money laundering in Hong Kong, after accessing Ms Poon's accounts and sentenced to 29 months in prison. He served 18 months.

Chan's case was held up by Hong Kong's government as the key example for why an extradition bill was necessary.

The bill would have allowed extradition of suspects to places where Hong Kong lacks an extradition treaty. That meant it included not just Taiwan, but also mainland China.

The proposed legislation led to major demonstrations in Hong Kong, with millions of people taking to the streets - protests which morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement.

In September, Hong Kong's chief executive announced the extradition bill would be formally withdrawn.

On his release, Chan declared his intention to return to Taiwan.

Speaking outside prison, he said: "I am willing, for my impulsive actions and things I did wrong, to surrender myself, to return to Taiwan to plead guilty and stand trial."

He said he would have to accept the consequences for the "worst mistake" he had ever made.

His release and stated aim to go to Taiwan has resulted in a political row between Taipei and Hong Kong.

Taiwan initially said it would not take back Chan unless a mutual legal assistance framework was established between the two governments.

Taiwan changed course and offered to send their own authorities to Hong Kong to escort Chan - an offer the Hong Kong government described as "totally unacceptable".

At the same time, a report from the Financial Times said that Beijing was preparing to remove Carrie Lam as Hong Kong's chief executive.

Citing people briefed on the deliberations, the report said that Ms Lam would be removed and a replacement appointed by March.

The plan would require the authorisation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Protestors have been calling for Ms Lam's resignation all summer but one of their political demands is that any new chief executive is appointed through a proper universal vote by Hong Kongers.

:: Sky News is broadcasting a Brexit-free channel, weekdays 5pm to 10pm on Sky 523