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Oct. 22, 2019, 11:48 p.m. EDT

Hong Kong government to officially withdraw extradition bill that sparked protests

Bill expected to be withdrawn Wednesday; murder suspect at center of controversy freed from prison

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By Associated Press


Associated Press
Chan Tong-kai, center, talks to the media as he is released from prison in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong authorities are set to formally withdraw an unpopular extradition bill that sparked months of chaotic protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The security chief is due on Wednesday to announce the bill’s withdrawal in the city’s legislature.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had proposed the amendments to resolve a case involving a man wanted for murder in Taiwan who could not be sent to the self-ruled island because there was no extradition agreement in place.

Read: China working on plans to replace Hong Kong’s leader: report

But the proposal stoked widespread fears residents would be put at risk of being sent into mainland China’s Communist Party-controlled judicial system, and Lam was forced to drop the bill in the face of fierce opposition.

The crisis has snowballed into demands for universal suffrage and an investigation into police tactics.

The murder suspect whose case indirectly led to Hong Kong’s ongoing protests was freed from prison on Wednesday and told reporters he was willing to surrender to authorities in Taiwan, where he is wanted for the killing of his girlfriend.

Chan Tong-kai was released after serving a separate sentence for money laundering offenses. He could not be sent to Taiwan because the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong has no extradition agreement with self-ruled Taiwan.

“I am willing, for my impulsive actions and things I did wrong, to surrender myself, to return to Taiwan to plead guilty and stand trial,” he said.

In the days leading up to his release, Hong Kong and Taiwan feuded over his case after Lam said Chan had offered to return voluntarily to Taiwan.

Taiwan objected to allowing him the freedom to travel and instead offered to send a team to escort him back, but Hong Kong’s government refused, saying Taiwanese officers could not enforce the law in Hong Kong.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said Wednesday that allowing a murder suspect to fly on his own would ignore the safety of other passengers and that Hong Kong’s approach makes Hong Kong “a criminal paradise where murderers can walk around.”

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