Fugitive murder suspect jailed for 29 months

Top News | Phoenix Un 30 Apr 2019

A Hongkonger who allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan and set the government on course to amend the fugitive law was sentenced to 29 months in jail on four counts of money laundering yesterday.

Already in detention for 13 months, he is expected to be released by October, says Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has urged the Legislative Council to pass the fugitive law amendment by July to enable Chan Tong-kai, 20, to be sent to Taiwan to face a murder charge.

Chan had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense.

They were the ATM card of his dead girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, 20, one digital camera costing HK$2,000, one iPhone Six costing HK$6,000 and HK$24,000 in cash.

High Court Judge Anthea Pang Po-kam set the starting point for sentencing on the first count at 39 months, the second and third counts at 2 1/2 years and the fourth count at one year.

As Chan pleaded guilty to all four counts, Pang gave him a one-third reduction and finally sentenced him to 29 months' jail.

Pang said she understood that people would find it unfair that Chan faced only the money laundering charge, but she could not handle the murder accusation against Chan for allegedly killing Poon in Taipei as Chan should only face the counts he was charged with and be tried fairly.

Pang explained three factors pushing her to increase the sentence of Chan: the money and properties came from the serious crime of murder, and the fact that Chan brought the money and properties from Taiwan to Hong Kong, and that he was the only one who benefited.

The High Court earlier heard that Chan admitted killing Poon, pregnant for three months, in a hotel room in Taipei on February 17 last year by banging her head against the wall, then strangling her from the back.

Chan told the police that he was furious as Poon said the baby belonged to his ex-boyfriend, not him.

The court heard Chan stuffed Poon's body into a suitcase, and then dumped it in a park near a station, and returned to Hong Kong alone the same day with articles of Poon.

Poon's decomposed body was found on March 13 last year and Chan was arrested the same day in Hong Kong for the murder. He admitted to the police that he committed the murder, and then paid his credit card bill with the money from Poon's bank account using the password Poon had earlier told him.

He could not be charged with murder in Hong Kong, and could not be handed over to Taiwan as there is no extradition agreement between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The murder case has led to the government to propose amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance because it would do justice to the family of the murdered woman.

The government initiated consultations in January and proposed the bill in February to the Legislative Council.

The Bills Committee failed to elect the chairman and vice chairman during the first meeting on April 17 and the second meeting will be held today.

Lam, back from Beijing yesterday, met the media along with Lee just an hour after the sentence was handed down.

Lee estimated that Chan, with remission for good conduct, would be released in October. He said the government had been in communication with Taiwan since March and would write again to Taiwan today or tomorrow.

Lam said the release date of Chan made the law amendment urgent and it could brook no delay.

"We should strive to have Legco pass it by the end of the legislative year of 2018/19, meaning before the legislative session ends [in July], so that we have enough time to follow up," Lam said.

She said she wrote to Poon's parents in February in appreciation of their understanding of the government's difficulties, and explained to them that the issue is controversial but the government will solve the disputes.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said it was a misunderstanding that people predicted an imprisonment sentence of about one year and an immediate release for Chan.

"Money amount involved is only one of the factors, and the judges also consider other factors such as how the defendant obtained the money," Luk said.

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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