Taiwan appeared to backtrack somewhat on Tuesday afternoon over the surrender of a Hong Kong man wanted for murder on the island, saying it would take matters into its own hands being as the SAR government "is reluctant to act".
At a press conference in Taipei, the Mainland Affairs Council said it had written to the Hong Kong authorities asking for permission for its staff to fly to the SAR to escort Chan Tong-kai back to the island.
Earlier in the day, President Tsai Ing-wen had said that it was the SAR's responsibility to put Chan on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan last year, since both of them were Hongkongers.
She had added that if Taipei was to put Chan on trial, it would need to be provided with the relevant evidence gathered in Hong Kong.
However, the Department of Justice said there was insufficient evidence to press other charges against Chan.
It also said there were no legal grounds to detain him further completing his sentence. A department spokesman said it would be irresponsible and not in line with the spirit of the rule of law for Taiwan to turn Chan away if he wants to surrender.
Chan allegedly confessed to Hong Kong police that he killed Poon in Taipei in February 2018, before fleeing back to the SAR, where he was eventually jailed – but only for stealing her money and valuables.
He is due to be released from prison on Wednesday and has indicated that he is willing to give himself up to the Taiwanese authorities.
Chiu Chui-cheng from the Mainland Affairs Council said the island is now prepared to collect Chan and has requested that the Hong Kong police assist with the confirmation of his identity.
Chiu reiterated that Hong Kong officials should hand over critical information, such as Chan's testimony and confession statement.
The deputy minister denied that Taiwan had made a U-turn over the issue, saying it had waited until the very last moment for the Hong Kong government to take action and Taipei has now been forced to take matters into its own hands.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam had cited Chan's case as the reason for introducing her ill-fated extradition bill, which sparked Hong Kong's worst unrest since the 1997 handover.
Last updated: 2019-10-22 HKT 21:40
Taiwan ready to collect Chan Tong-kai, denies U-turn
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