Hong Kong scraps ill-fated extradition bill

Murder suspect whose case sparked the legal move is released from prison
Hong Kong scraps ill-fated extradition bill

Chan Tong-kai, 20, wanted in Taiwan for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend in 2018, is greeted by Rev. Peter Koon Ho-ming as he walks out of Pik Uk Prison in Hong Kong on Oct. 23 after serving a short jail sentence for withdrawing money from his girlfriend's credit card after she died. Chan's case triggered the Hong Kong government's ill-fated extradition bill. (AFP photo)

A controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protest has been formally withdrawn by Hong Kong’s government.

The bill, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, prompted fury when it was introduced in April.

Mass protests followed in the Chinese territory and the bill was eventually suspended, but protesters have continued regular demonstrations as part of a wider pro-democracy movement.

The bill was formally withdrawn by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Oct. 23, Channel News Asia reported.

Critics of the planned law had feared extradition to mainland China could subject people to arbitrary detention and unfair trials.

The bill's formal withdrawal meets only one of five key demands made by protesters, who have often chanted "five demands, not one less" in Hong Kong's streets.

The others are for the protests not to be characterized as riots, an amnesty for arrested protesters, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and implementation of complete universal suffrage.

Carrie Lam, the embattled Hong Kong leader, has insisted that other demands by protesters are outside her control.

The protests began peacefully but sometimes descend into violent running battles between police and hardcore demonstrators who have vandalized shops and hurled petrol bombs at security forces.

Police have used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets in response. Live rounds have been fired on a few occasions, and an 18-year-old was shot by police in the chest on Oct. 1.

China's government is drawing up plans to remove chief executive Lam, the Financial Times reported on Oct. 23.

If Chinese President Xi Jinping approves the plan, the newspaper said, she will be replaced by an interim chief executive after calm returns to Hong Kong.

Separately on Oct. 23, Hong Kong released the murder suspect whose case led to the extradition bill.

Chan Tong-kai is accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan last year before fleeing to Hong Kong.

Chan was jailed in Hong Kong after he was convicted of withdrawing money from his girlfriend's credit card after she died, but the Department of Justice said it did not have sufficient evidence against the 20-year-old on the murder charge in Taiwan.

Chan wrote a letter to Lam on Oct. 18 offering to surrender himself to Taiwan on his release.

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