The trip was meant to be a romantic getaway for 20-year-old Poon Hiu-wing, fully paid for by her teenage boyfriend. But as the couple wheeled the suitcase back to their hotel, she would never be seen again.
The trip was meant to be a romantic getaway for 20-year-old Poon Hiu-wing, fully paid for by her teenage boyfriend. But as the couple wheeled the suitcase back to their hotel, she would never be seen again.

Teen holiday murder that ignited global crisis

WARNING: GRAPHIC

It all began with a pink suitcase.

A young couple from Hong Kong had seen it while they were wandering through the famous night markets of Taiwan's capital Taipei and made the decision, there and then, to buy it.

The trip was meant to be a romantic getaway for 20-year-old Poon Hiu-wing, fully paid for by her teenage boyfriend. But as the couple wheeled the suitcase back to their hotel, she would never be seen again.

And, what happened after they closed the hotel room door on February 16 last year would spark an international crisis that continues to rock the world. An initially unremarkable holiday has now led Hong Kong to be paralysed by months of protests and a very real fear that China will strip the city of what little autonomy it once had.

Court documents show that Ms Poon met her 19-year-old lover Chan Tong-kai in 2017 and they were infatuated with each other just one month later.

In December that year that Chan decided to book a romantic holiday for Ms Poon - who, by then, was five weeks pregnant.

Chan Tong-kai took his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-Wing on holiday to Taiwan. Picture: Supplied
Chan Tong-kai took his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-Wing on holiday to Taiwan. Picture: Supplied

The Taiwan holiday, the following February, went by without any major incident. That was until the final night when they stumbled home with the suitcase they'd bought from the night markets.

Their hotel's CCTV footage showed Chan taking the suitcase out of the room to check out the following morning. Bizarrely, he was alone but nobody was left in the hotel room.

Footage from Taipei's busy subway stations showed Chan hauling the suitcase through the city before boarding a plane home to Hong Kong. Again, Ms Poon was nowhere to be seen.

A month later her worried father flew to Taipei in a bid to find out why his daughter hadn't returned.

Not long after he reported her missing, police found Ms Poon's decaying body hidden in bushes, about 20 metres from a popular riverside trail in neighbouring New Taipei City.

Court documents showed that, upon hearing of the discovery, police in Hong Kong swooped on Chan. Before long he'd made a chilling confession.

He told police that after they'd returned to the hotel room on February 16, the couple argued about how to pack their new suitcase.

Chan said he thought the pair had made up but, just a few hours later, tensions flared again.

It was then that Ms Poon told him the baby wasn't his. She showed him a video on her phone of her having sex with another man.

Chan has confessed to killing Ms Poon. Picture: Supplied
Chan has confessed to killing Ms Poon. Picture: Supplied

Chan told police he remembered "feeling agitated at the time". He slammed his girlfriend's head against the hotel room wall, then strangled her from behind with both hands.

There was a struggle on the floor for about 10 minutes until Ms Poon stopped breathing.

He told police he stuffed Ms Poon's body into the pink suitcase and packed her personal belongings into four plastic bags.

With his lover dead, Chan said he took her ATM card, digital camera and iPhone - which he dumped at different refuse collection points near the hotel.

He then checked out of the hotel with his girlfriend's body in the suitcase and took a train before finding a park, where he took her body out and dumped it.

Before leaving Taipei, he used her ATM card to take out 20,000 Taiwanese dollars ($A961) and after returning to Hong Kong, he used her card to withdraw money three times, totalling $HK19,200 ($A3748).

MURDER MORPHED INTO INTERNATIONAL CRISIS

In Hong Kong, Chan pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 29 months in prison, with his reduced the sentence by a third.

But even though Chan has admitted to the "alleged offence" of murder, we would have to be extradited for the prosecution to go ahead in Taiwan.

However, there was no extradition agreement between Taiwan, a sovereign nation claimed by China, and Hong Kong, an autonomous territory of China.

The Hong Kong government tried to introduce one in the wake of the confession, using Chan as a specific example of how it would bring justice to grieving families like Ms Poon's.

But the bill, which would have also allowed for criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, sparked mass unrest when it was introduced in April.

 

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets saying the bill would undermine Hong Kong's legal freedoms and might be used to intimidate or silence critics of Beijing.

Seven months later, Hong Kong still resembles a "war zone", despite the bill being officially withdrawn.

This week the chaos in Hong Kong flared up again, as a dramatic and ongoing siege inside a university saw more than 100 anti-government demonstrators arrested.

Taiwan - which split from mainland China during a civil war in 1949 and set up a rival government to the communists in Beijing - also strongly objected to the bill.

Its government believed the Hong Kong government was trying use its request for Chan's extradition as an excuse to ram through the bill.

Hong Kong's authorities leaders said this was "nonsense" and they begged Taiwan to take Chan, who they said is willing to surrender himself.

Meanwhile, Ms Poon's family are waiting for justice as Chan's "alleged" murder case lies cold in limbo.

 

It appears that the confessed killer, who was released from prison to a swarm of TV cameras last month, wants to see closure on the case too.

"For my impulse, for the wrongful act I've committed, I'm willing to surrender and go back to Taiwan to face prison sentence and face trial," he told the media after he walked from prison.

"To society and Hong Kong people, I can only say I'm sorry. I hope everyone can forgive me. I hope everyone can give me a chance to be a new person and give me a chance to give back to society."



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