The HKSAR government on Sunday rejected allegations of manipulation or political motives in the decision of murder suspect Chan Tong-kai to surrender himself to Taiwan police, calling such claims "totally groundless".
In a statement issued on Sunday night, the government expressed its deepest regret over fabricated allegations of "inadequate investigation", "an indifferent attitude towards pursuing the charge of homicide", as well as "inaction in exercising the jurisdiction of Hong Kong's courts".
It reiterated that Hong Kong's law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary adhere to the principle of political neutrality, and act strictly in accordance with evidence.
The statement came after the Taiwan authorities said Chan would be received only on condition that full mutual judicial cooperation with Hong Kong is carried out, and Hong Kong provides all relevant evidence it has to facilitate investigation into the case.
Currently, Hong Kong and Taiwan have no juridical cooperation arrangement, hence there is no law for Hong Kong to extradite Chan to Taiwan. That prompted the SAR government to propose amending its extradition law in March to allow the city to surrender fugitive offenders to jurisdictions with which it does not have extradition arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
Responding to Taiwan's request on relevant evidence, the HKSAR government noted it has been confirmed that only enough evidence to prosecute Chan on money laundering offenses had been collected in Hong Kong, and there's no evidence for other offenses, including attempting to commit murder.
In the statement, the SAR government listed efforts it has made to help Taiwan in its investigation into Chan's case. Between June last year and April this year, Hong Kong had issued four letters to the Taiwan authorities with a view to exchanging information on case development and expressing the intention for face-to-face discussions. In March this year, Hong Kong also suggested sending a delegation to Taiwan to discuss co-operation on the murder case, but no reply was received from Taiwan.
The SAR government hopes that Taiwan will take a positive step to receive a person giving himself up and wanted by them, in a pragmatic manner, and promised to offer all necessary assistance within the legal limits of Hong Kong.
Chan, a Hong Kong resident, was suspected of murdering his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan in February last year. He was arrested by Hong Kong police after fleeing Taiwan, and convicted of money laundering after stealing money from his girlfriend's bank accounts.
Chan wrote a letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last Friday, saying he was willing to turn himself in to Taiwan police after completing his 29-month imprisonment in Hong Kong. Chan is due to be released by Wednesday (Oct 23).
The Taiwan authorities issued a warrant for Chan in December last year with a 30-year statute of limitations.
Taiwan's former leader Ma Ying-jeou hit out at Taiwan's refusal to receive Chan. In his Facebook post, Ma said he was extremely furious, saying Taiwan's decision had political motives.