Chan Tong-kai: Hong Kong releases murder suspect who sparked protest crisis

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Chan Tong-kai leaving prisonImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Chan Tong-kai says he is now willing to face charges in Taiwan

Hong Kong has released the murder suspect whose case led to plans to change extradition rules which then triggered the city's mass protests.

Chan Tong-kai is accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan last year before fleeing back to Hong Kong.

But Hong Kong and Taiwan do not have an extradition treaty, and his case was cited when the government proposed amending the law.

He was in jail for withdrawing money from her credit card after she died.

Walking free on Wednesday after 19 months in prison, the 20-year old apologised to the victim's family for the great "pain and agony" he caused them.

"I am willing to surrender myself," he said, adding he was willing to "go back to Taiwan to face the trial and serve the sentence".

Hong Kong and Taipei have clashed though over how he should be transferred to face the murder charges. It is unclear what the next steps will be.

While Hong Kong said Mr Chan was free to go to Taiwan and surrender himself, Taiwan cited security concerns and wants to send officers to escort him - a proposal that Hong Kong has rejected.

The proposed extradition bill would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite criminal suspects to places it doesn't have an extradition treaty with, including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

Critics of the planned law feared that extradition to mainland China could subject people to arbitrary detention and unfair trials.

The controversial bill was formally withdrawn on Wednesday.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Last week's parliament session was cut short amid chaotic scenes

After the bill sparked city-wide protests, the government announced in July that it would suspend the bill.

The formal withdrawal could only take place after parliament resumed in October.

Last week, parliament proceedings were interrupted when opposition lawmakers heckled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Although the Hong Kong protests started over the extradition bill, they have since widened to call for full democracy and less interference from Beijing.

Media caption,

How Hong Kong got trapped in a cycle of violence