A murder suspect whose case was used by the Hong Kong government to push for a controversial extradition bill walked free from jail in Hong Kong on Wednesday as the city’s authorities squabbled with Taiwan over how to handle a promised voluntary surrender.
Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong citizen, was accused of murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan last year before fleeing back to Hong Kong.
Chan was arrested by Hong Kong police in March 2018, but authorities were only able to find evidence against him for money laundering.
He was released from jail in the morning Wednesday after serving an 18-month term.
Speaking to reporters outside the prison, Chan bowed and apologized to the family of his ex-girlfriend and the public.
He said he had made an “unforgivable mistake” and that he is willing to plead guilty and turn himself in to Taiwan for trial.
“I hope her family can be relieved a bit and let her rest in peace,” he said, declining to say when he would turn himself in.
“For the society, for Hongkongers I can only be sorry. I hope you can all forgive me … let me be a new person and give me the opportunity to return to society.”
While Chan has offered to surrender himself voluntarily, Hong Kong and Taiwan have clashed over the next steps.
Hong Kong’s Security Secretary John Lee said on Wednesday that Taiwanese authorities were obstructing the case for “political reasons”, and that Chan should be free to go to Taiwan and surrender himself.
Taiwan has argued that his extradition without a legal assistance framework would damage Taiwan’s sovereignty and put Taiwan under the “one China” framework.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that it is “unbelievable” that Chan could be expected to take a flight to Taiwan by himself, “completely ignoring the safety of passengers on the same flights in order to serve the political arrangement of a ‘surrender’”.
It said Taiwan had repeatedly asked for legal cooperation.
“We are solemnly telling the Hong Kong government that you have to take full responsibility for all bitter consequences,” the council statement said.
Taiwan has also said it wanted to send officers to Hong Kong to escort Chan back to the island upon his release, a move the Hong Kong government has described as a disrespectful and unacceptable attempt to cross legal jurisdictions. Reuters
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