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Crime

Hong Kong teenager faces possible murder charge over girlfriend’s death in Taiwan, prosecutors tell court

Chan Tong-kai, 19, had visited Taipei in February with girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing, 20, whose badly decomposed body was discovered in bushes the following month

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 10:50pm

A teenage Hongkonger is facing a possible murder charge over the alleged killing of his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, Hong Kong prosecutors revealed for the first time in court on Thursday.

Chan Tong-kai, 19, had already been charged with theft and handling stolen goods.

Word of a possible murder charge came as acting senior public prosecutor Claudia Ko Hoi-yee asked the court for six more weeks for further investigations and legal advice, including over the venue of the trial, after Chan was charged with an additional count of theft.

When Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai questioned why more time was needed, Ko revealed that they had received new information regarding the circumstances of the killing of Chan’s girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, 20, from an autopsy Taiwanese authorities had conducted.

The prosecutor did not elaborate further.

Poon died while on holiday with Chan in early February. Her badly decomposed body was discovered on March 13, in bushes near Zhuwei MRT station, on Taipei’s outskirts.

Autopsy results showed she was three months’ pregnant.

Chan, who flew to Taipei with Poon on February 8, returned to Hong Kong alone on February 17, and was arrested in Hong Kong over the theft case on March 13. He has been remanded since his first court appearance on March 15.

Taiwan prosecutors urge Hong Kong to make official request in case involving death of pregnant woman

Chan’s defence counsel Ronny Leung did not object to the adjournment, but again asked for prosecutors to speed up the case.

“The defendant has been remanded for a very long time,” Leung said, adding that the prosecution’s inquiries should have been done a long time ago. “The defendant has made a full admission. The CCTV [and] bank records have been obtained.”

Chainrai echoed his comments. “The prosecution is asked to get its act together and be ready on the next occasion,” she said.

Chan has been remanded in Hong Kong after being charged in March with two counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods.

Hong Kong prosecutors allege Chan dishonestly received stolen goods belonging to his girlfriend, including an HSBC bank card, a Casio camera, an iPhone 6 and NT$20,000 (US$2,560).

He was further accused of stealing money from Poon’s Hang Seng Bank account on two occasions between February 21 and 23 via a cash machine at Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill. He allegedly took HK$10,000 (US$1,280) on the first occasion and HK$8,500 on the second.

The charges were amended on Thursday, with the count of handling stolen goods replaced by dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence.

The total sum of Chan’s alleged theft was also increased from HK$18,500 to HK$19,000, and ownership of the cash changed from Poon to the bank.

A fresh charge further alleges that Chan stole HK$200 from HSBC on February 21.

Chan has yet to make a plea.

He did not apply for bail, and has further waived his rights to make an application in eight days.

The case will return to the same court on August 22.

Authorities and legal experts in Hong Kong and Taiwan have been struggling over the past few months to pursue the murder case in Taipei because of a lack of relevant agreement.

Hong Kong has signed mutual legal assistance treaties with 29 foreign jurisdictions and surrender of fugitive offenders agreements with 19. But the city has no such agreements with Taiwan and does not recognise the island’s jurisdiction.