Taiwan to ask Hong Kong’s help investigating teenager wanted for girlfriend’s murder
Prosecutors on self-governing island face tough task probing woman’s death, with their prime suspect out of the country and no extradition deal
Taiwan’s government said on Thursday it wanted Hong Kong’s help investigating the murder of a woman from the city, allegedly by her teenage boyfriend, while the couple was in Taipei last month.
Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang said that although there is no extradition deal between Taiwan and Hong Kong, his ministry would try to get an agreement from the Hong Kong side to ease the investigation and any eventual punishment of 19-year-old Chan Tong-kai.
“The Justice Ministry will do all it can to assist the prosecutors in having the suspect questioned in Taiwan,” he said.
Chan was suspected of killing his 20-year-old girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing, also from Hong Kong, during their vacation in Taiwan, police there said.
The couple went to the self-governing island on February 8, but Chan returned to Hong Kong without Poon on February 17, they said. The suspect, a former associate degree student at Polytechnic University’s Hong Kong Community College, was seen carrying a huge pink suitcase after checking out of a Taipei hotel earlier that day, according to officers.
On Wednesday police discovered the badly decomposed body of Poon, a former student at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, in bushes near an MRT station on the outskirts of Taipei.
In Hong Kong, Chan faces charges of theft and handling stolen goods, and was remanded in custody on Thursday after appearing in court. He is accused of stealing Poon’s bank card, a camera, an iPhone 6 and NT$20,000 (US$2,560), and taking money from her bank account twice in late February, from a cash machine in Diamond Hill.
The victim and suspect being from Hong Kong has made the situation difficult for Taiwanese prosecutors, especially with Chan no longer in Taiwan.
With the lack of extradition arrangements, legal experts in both places have said there was little hope of the suspect returning to Taiwan for investigation or prosecution.
Meng Yu-mei, deputy director of the international and cross-strait judicial affairs department under the Justice Ministry, said Taiwan has the right to probe the case as the murder took place on the island.
“The jurisdiction of the case falls within Taiwan since the crime took place in Taiwan and the victim was found dead in Taiwan,” she said.
The prosecutor’s office for Shilin district, which is in charge of the case, said it had already sought the help of the local Justice Ministry in getting Hong Kong’s cooperation.
Prosecutors said the initial autopsy showed Poon was strangled to death.
The prosecutor’s office spokesman said they could not confirm reports that the woman was three months pregnant before she was killed, as the initial autopsy showed no sign of pregnancy, given that the body was seriously decomposed.
“We will send the body to a research institute for further inspection to see if the victim was pregnant before she died,” the official said.
The killing came to light after Poon’s father went to Taiwan a few days ago to seek help from local police.
When asked how the murder case would be handled on Friday, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu did not say whether the suspect would be transferred to Taiwan for trial.
“The incident involves two jurisdictions,” Lee said. “We are working hard to study how to process the case under the existing legal framework. At this stage, I think it is most important to investigate and gather evidence, and know clearly what happened and what crimes are involved in each jurisdiction.”
He added that only after evidence had been gathered would authorities decide to which court they should be submitted.