Taiwan has not given up jurisdiction in a murder case from last year involving two Hong Kong citizens, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, amid a controversy over whether Taiwan should accept the suspect for questioning.
Authorities have made it clear that Taiwan has not relinquished jurisdiction over the case, Tsai said, but added that she also wanted Hong Kong to take control of the case.
In February last year, Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳) allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing (潘曉穎), while they were traveling in Taiwan. Poon’s body was found in a suitcase dumped in a field near an MRT metropolitan railway station in New Taipei City in March that year.
The lack of an extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong made it impossible for Chan to be questioned, but he last week expressed a willingness to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities.
However, Tsai’s government has refused to accept Chan’s request and yesterday the president argued that Hong Kong should exercise its jurisdiction over the case.
The suspect and the victim are Hong Kong citizens, and Taiwan believes that key evidence and interview transcripts regarding the case are still in Hong Kong, Tsai said.
Therefore, Taiwan deems it “only natural” for Hong Kong authorities to press murder charges against Chan and have him tried in Hong Kong, she said.
“However, we are now seeing that the Hong Kong government is apparently reluctant to exercise its judicial jurisdiction over the case,” Tsai said.
She reiterated her government’s stance in urging Hong Kong to reconsider its decision, following its announcement last week that it was willing to send Chan to Taiwan to facilitate the investigation.
Taiwan has made “related preparations” to exercise its jurisdiction, she said.
The president called on the two sides to closely work together by sharing information and evidence related to the case to facilitate the investigation.
The Criminal Code stipulates that Taiwan has jurisdiction over all criminal cases that occur within its borders, regardless of the nationality of those involved.
However, the Ministry of Justice late on Monday said that Taiwan and Hong Kong have jurisdiction over the case and should both take responsibility for solving it.
In Taiwan’s view, Hong Kong should have priority over Taiwan in handling the case because Chan is in Hong Kong and has questioned him, and therefore would arguably have a better picture of the alleged murder, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said.
He called on Hong Kong to have a court rule on whether it should have jurisdiction over the case.
If the court rules that Hong Kong does not have jurisdiction, Taiwan would definitely cooperate and engage in further talks on how to proceed, he said.
Separately yesterday, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) criticized the decision to not accept Chan’s offer to turn himself in to local authorities.
The Democratic Progressive Party’s decision is a political one, indicating that the government does not care about human rights and justice, said Ma, of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Ma, who held office from 2008 to 2016, said that the government should accept Chan’s surrender, which would not be at odds with Taiwan’s hopes of sealing a judicial cooperation pact with Hong Kong.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) later rebuked Ma for criticizing the government’s handling of the case.
“Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) was playing politics with the protests,” Su said, referring to upheaval in the territory triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to China for trial.
“Ma should show more concern for Hong Kong’s young people, who are being fired upon by their own government. He should be concerned about their human rights, but we did not hear anything from him [when the protests started],” Su said. “Now, talking about Chan’s case, Ma is all emotional and choked up. It is quite strange and shows Ma’s double standards.”
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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