Law firm says it is representing Hong Kong murder suspect in Taiwan

Taipei,  A Taiwanese law firm on Monday confirmed it has been hired by a Hong Kong man suspected of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan in 2018 to represent his interests in the case.

The Taipei-based law firm, Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law (理律法律事務所) said in a press statement that going forward it will be responsible for defending Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳) in any legal proceedings in Taiwan.

The company has informed the Shilin District Prosecutors Office, which is in charge of the case, that it will be representing Chan, according to the statement.

However, the legal firm would not disclose further details concerning the case, citing attorney-client privilege.

The company is one of the largest law firms in Taiwan. One of its senior partners is Chen Charng-ven (陳長文), a 75-year-old veteran lawyer and a close friend of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Chen also served as deputy head and secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), a semi- official intermediary body that deals with cross-strait issues on behalf of Taiwan’s government, during a previous KMT administration.

Meanwhile, the Shilin District Prosecutors Office confirmed Monday it has been notified by Lee and Li law firm that it has been hired to represent Chan and was also given a statement signed by the accused, without further elaboration.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) has established a direct communication channel with Hong Kong police authorities over the case. However, it also reiterated the government’s position that Chan needs to apply to visit Taiwan through an official single “contact channel” established to inform the Taiwan side when he is ready fly to Taiwan and surrender to local authorities.

The law firm’s statement was released after Hong Kong media reported earlier this month that Chan expressed his willingness to return to Taiwan and face a potential murder trial.

Hong Kong media said Chan’s lawyers will begin to arrange his trip to Taiwan sometime after Oct. 5.

Chan, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is suspected of killing his 20-year-old girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing (潘曉穎) when they were traveling in Taiwan in February 2018.

Poon’s body was found in a suitcase dumped in a field near a subway station in New Taipei after Chan returned to Hong Kong.

He has since been listed as a suspect in the murder by Taipei prosecutors, who issued an arrest warrant and sought his return to face trial in Taiwan.

However, the pursuit of Chan was difficult given the lack of a mutual legal assistance arrangement between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong tried to introduce an extradition bill that would have allowed criminals in Hong Kong to be extradited to China, Taiwan or Macau, but it triggered massive opposition because of fears people could be extradited to China without due cause.

Taiwan also opposed the now-withdrawn extradition bill, saying it viewed Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China on a par with Hong Kong and Macau and wanted a separate deal similar to those Hong Kong has signed with 30-plus countries around the world.

In Hong Kong, Chan was released from prison on Oct. 23, 2019 after serving a 29-month sentence for stealing money from Poon’s account and using her bank card after returning to the territory.

Chan has since repeatedly expressed his desire to turn himself in to Taiwanese authorities.

Hong Kong has consistently maintained it cannot prosecute Chan on murder charges because the key evidence is in Taiwan.

In September this year, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters her administration had no legal grounds to do something about the Chan case since he was already a free man.

She also said she did not see any way for the Hong Kong government to ensure Chan faces trial in Taiwan, because there were communication problems between Hong Kong and Taiwan on other issues, implying some Hong Kong requests were not answered by Taiwan.

However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the nation’s top government agency handling cross-strait affairs, said it requested legal assistance from Hong Kong concerning Chan’s case on three separate occasions on behalf of the Shilin District Prosecutors Office but received no response.

 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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