點燃香港修例之爭的一樁謀殺案

DANIEL VICTOR, TIFFANY MAY (《紐約時報》2019年6月19日)

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過去一週來,抗議者佔據了香港立法會附近的道路。

香港 ── 在大規模街頭抗議、催淚瓦斯、與警察的衝突之前,在政府全力推動可能威脅香港在中國特殊地位的立法、後又突然作出讓步之前,一名懷有身孕的年輕女子踏上了前往台灣的浪漫之旅。

20歲的潘曉穎在去年情人節的那次旅行後,再也沒有回到香港,但她19歲的男友陳同佳回來了。他後來告訴香港警方,他勒死了她,把屍體塞進行李箱,扔到了台北一個捷運站附近的灌木叢裡。

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陳同佳和女友潘曉穎。

起初,這只是一個當地的罪案故事,一些細節被小報逐漸報導出來:這對情侶在Facebook上的一張自拍照,模糊不清的監控鏡頭,以及他們最後一次發生爭吵的情形。

然後在今年2月,在陳同佳被逮捕將近一年後,香港政府以這個案件為由提議通過一項立法,允許香港將犯罪嫌疑人移交給與之沒有引渡條約的台灣,以及其他地方——包括中國大陸。

香港行政長官林鄭月娥把這起引起轟動的罪案作為重要證據,在匆忙推動上述法案通過的過程中,她和她在中央政府的上級領導們似乎對勝券在握充滿信心。

事實卻證明,他們嚴重低估了公眾對北京侵蝕這個半自治的英國前殖民地的恐懼和懷疑。林鄭月娥的倉促做法引發了香港數十年來規模最大的一次抗議活動,同時也重振了香港處於困境的民主反對派。

上週六,林鄭月娥終於在壓力下讓步,暫停了推動修訂《逃犯條例》的努力,但拒絕徹底撤回立法,也拒絕辭職。對國家主席習近平的強硬派政府來說,這是一次罕見的退卻。

批評人士從一開始,就給修例貼上了「特洛伊木馬」的標籤,他們認為修例會讓北京將矛頭對準香港異見人士及其他與中共官員有衝突的人。

隨著公眾憤怒的蔓延,林鄭月娥及其盟友堅持按照劇本行事,仍說為了將陳同佳繩之以法,香港需要這個法案——即使在台灣當局已明確表示這不合乎事實之後。台灣官員早在今年5月就表示,他們不會按照擬議中的立法尋求引渡陳同佳。

台灣官員的反對與香港人民的反對有相同之處:中國大陸的法院和安全機構都由執政的共產黨控制,不受人信任。

林鄭月娥多次提到潘家人的悲痛,在人們眼裡,那只是「政治機會主義的最糟表現」——用反對派議員郭榮鏗的話說。

可憎的罪行

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潘曉穎和陳同佳去年入住的台北紫園旅店。

潘曉穎曾就讀於一所教授烹飪和美容師課程的學校。陳同佳當時在讀商科。他們於2017年7月在一家商店打工時相識。

這對情侶去年去台灣旅行之前,潘曉穎曾在Facebook上對陳同佳讚不絕口:「他說我是他的第一個也是最後一個女朋友。」

他們在台灣首都台北一起度過了情人節,但兩天後,他們發生了爭吵,一直吵到凌晨

據《南華早報》(South China Morning Post)報導,陳同佳後來告訴調查人員,潘曉穎在台北一個有名的夜市買了一個粉紅色的行李箱,他們在應該怎樣把東西裝進箱子的問題上發生了爭吵。

然後,據陳同佳提供給警方的描述,潘曉穎告訴他,她懷的是前男友的孩子,並讓陳同佳看了一段她與另一名男子發生性關係的影片。

陳同佳說,他在憤怒中把她的頭撞到牆上,並在酒店房間的地板上與她扭打了大約10分鐘,然後把她勒死了。他把她的屍體塞進行李箱後,就去睡覺了。

見潘曉穎沒有回來,她的父親開始慌忙地尋找她的下落。據《台灣英文新聞》(Taiwan News)報導,陳同佳告訴潘父,他兩人吵架後「分了手,各走各的路」。香港警方詢問陳同佳時,他給了警方同樣的說法。

但後來,台灣當局調取的監控錄像顯示,陳同佳費很大力氣把一個粉紅色的行李箱拖出了酒店。

香港警探再次詢問了陳同佳。這次,他坦白了,並交代了她屍體所在的位置,在台北北郊竹圍捷運站附近的一片空地。警察在當天晚上找到了屍體。

但香港警方不能以謀殺罪起訴陳同佳,因為犯罪地點在台灣。陳同佳在潘曉穎死後用了她的信用卡,因此他是以洗錢罪被捕,並最終被判有罪的。

今年4月,香港一家法院判處他29個月的監禁。他在等待審判期間已被關押了一段時間,加上在獄中表現良好,他最早可在今年10月出獄。

屍檢顯示,潘曉穎已有四五個月的身孕。

是「特洛伊木馬」還是公正司法

暴力犯罪在香港和台灣相對較少,所以當陳同佳第一次被逮捕時,當地新聞媒體對此案進行了廣泛報導。

一些報導指出,恐怕以謀殺罪起訴會很難,因為那會涉及國際事務的繁文縟節。但在幾個月的時間裡,並沒有跡象表明,此案會成為一場國際爭端的核心。

後來,在去年12月,台灣的檢察官得到了對陳同佳的逮捕令。

台灣政府說,曾三次與香港當局進行聯繫,討論如何引渡陳同佳。據負責對大陸政策的台灣陸委會副主委邱垂正說,但三次都未得到回覆。

這裡面有兩個相互關聯的問題:中國不承認台灣的政府,認為台灣是中國領土的一部分。而1997年回歸中國的香港與台灣沒有引渡協議。

兩個月後,就在潘曉穎遇害一週年的前夕,林鄭月娥採取了行動。

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在公眾對擬議中的引渡法不斷增長的憤怒情緒中,香港行政長官林鄭月娥已成為焦點所在。

她的政府把《逃犯條例》修訂草案提交給了香港立法會,修例將允許以「個案」為基礎做出將逃犯引渡到與香港沒有正式引渡協議的司法管轄區的決定,草案中提到了這起殺人案。

修例將覆蓋台灣,但也包括中國大陸。這下事情大了。

香港從未允許過將人引渡到中國大陸——這是英國答應歸還香港、北京承諾讓香港保留高度自治權時,得到雙方同意的一個保障。(該措施禁止將人引渡到中國的任何地方,因為北京對這個民主自治的島嶼宣稱擁有主權,這就讓與台灣的任何協議變得複雜起來。)

然而,林鄭月娥卻試圖避開立法會正常的委員會程序,將修例草案推上快速管道,只給公眾諮詢留下了異常短暫的20天時間。

反對力量不斷壯大。今年3月,數千人參加了反對修例的抗議活動,今年4月,數萬人在立法會外集會反對修例。立法會上,就修例進行辯論的議員們發生了扭打;其中一人被用擔架抬走。

職業公務員出身的林鄭月娥是2017年由中央政府任命為香港特首的。她向公眾保證,修例不適用於政治罪。但就連她保守的顧問委員會內部——其成員和她本人一樣,都不是選舉出來的——也存在著不安。比如,當香港財政司的官員們獲知,該法案還將允許北京開始要求凍結在香港的資產時,他們感到驚愕不已。

這之後,台灣在今年5月宣布,即使修例通過,台灣也不會據此來尋求引渡陳同佳,這大大削弱了林鄭月俄修例的理由。

「除非赴港或在港台灣人被移送到中國的威脅得以解除,否則我們不會同意香港當局提出的個案移交逃犯的建議,」邱垂正說。

『這是應該做的事情』

林鄭月娥說,是她自己決定修訂《逃犯條例》的,沒有受到習近平或其他中國領導人的指示。但中國大陸的宣傳機器對抗議者採取了強硬立場,指責他們與海外敵對勢力合謀,北京的幾名中共高級官員也表示支持修例。

這就讓有關修例的辯論轉變為一場更廣泛的鬥爭,鬥爭的核心是在中國統治下公民自由受到侵蝕的問題,以及香港作為全球金融中心的未來。

自從要求全民普選的「雨傘運動」失敗後,香港的民主反對派這五年裡一直處於守勢。但修例給了反對派一個機會,讓公眾團結起來,反對一件人們容易理解的事情:被抓並送往中國大陸的可能性。

上週五,林鄭月娥悄悄越過邊境,來到中國內地城市深圳,在那裡,她請教了來自中央的高級官員。一些官員是從北京飛過來的,中共幾名最高級別的香港問題專家也在場。(習近平當時在國外,他正在塔吉克斯坦的一個區域峰會上與俄羅斯總統弗拉基米爾·普丁一起慶祝自己的生日。)

與會者的一個共識是:考慮到公眾的反應,林鄭月娥應該無限期地推遲修例。

她上週六宣布了這一決定,並在為修例作辯護時,再次提到陳同佳案,但最終承認,台灣的立場意味著不需急於讓修訂《逃犯條例》獲得通過。「我們會以最有誠意、最謙卑的態度接受各界批評,改進工作,」她說。

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在週三與示威者的衝突中,警方動用了催淚瓦斯。

 

The Murder Case

That Lit the Fuse in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Before the mass street protests, the tear gas and the clashes with police, before the government went all out for legislation that could threaten Hong Kong’s special status in China, and then abruptly backed down, a pregnant young woman went on a romantic getaway to Taiwan.

Poon Hiu-wing, 20, never returned to Hong Kong from that Valentine’s Day trip last year, but her boyfriend, Chan Tong-kai, 19, did. He would later tell Hong Kong police that he had strangled her, stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it in a thicket of bushes near a subway station in Taipei.

It was just a local crime story at first, the details dribbling out in the tabloid press: a selfie of the couple on Facebook, grainy security camera footage, the circumstances of their last argument.

Then this past February, nearly a year after Chan’s arrest, the Hong Kong government cited the case to propose legislation that would allow the city to transfer criminal suspects to Taiwan and other places with which it lacks an extradition treaty — including mainland China.

Seizing on the sensational crime as Exhibit A in a rushed campaign to push through the measure, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and her superiors in the Chinese leadership seemed confident they had a winning strategy.

As it turned out, they badly underestimated public fear and suspicion of Beijing’s encroachment on this semiautonomous former British colony. The gambit provoked one of Hong Kong’s largest protests in decades while also revitalizing the territory’s beleaguered pro-democracy opposition.

In a rare retreat for President Xi Jinping’s hard-line government, Lam finally yielded to the pressure Saturday, suspending her push for the legislation while resisting demands to withdraw it completely and resign.

From the start, critics labeled the extradition plan a “Trojan horse” that would allow Beijing to target political dissidents and others in Hong Kong who ran afoul of party officials.

As popular outrage spread, Lam and her allies stuck to the script, arguing that Hong Kong needed the bill to bring Chan to justice — even after the authorities in Taiwan made clear that was not true. Taiwanese officials said as early as May that they would not seek Chan’s extradition under the proposed legislation.

Their objection echoed that of the people of Hong Kong: The courts and security forces in mainland China, all controlled by the ruling Communist Party, could not be trusted.

Lam’s repeated invocation of the Poon family’s grief was seen as just “political opportunism at its worst,” said Dennis Kwok, an opposition lawmaker.

A Grisly Crime

Poon had enrolled in a school that offered cooking and beautician classes. Chan was studying business. They met in July 2017 while working part time at a shop.

Before the couple set off for Taiwan last year, she gushed on Facebook, “He said I am his first and last girlfriend.”

They spent Valentine’s Day together in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, but two days later had a fight that stretched into the early morning.

Poon had bought a pink suitcase at one of Taipei’s famed night markets, and they argued about how their luggage should be packed, Chan would later tell investigators, according to The South China Morning Post.

Then, according to the account he provided the police, Poon revealed that an ex-boyfriend was the father of the child she was pregnant with, and showed Chan a video of her having sex with another man.

In a rage, Chan hit her head against a wall, struggled with her on the floor of their hotel room for about 10 minutes and strangled her, he said. He stuffed her body into a suitcase and went to sleep.

When Poon failed to return home, her father started a frantic search. Chan told him the couple had had an argument and “went our separate ways,” according to Taiwan News. The police in Hong Kong questioned Chan, and he told them the same.

But then authorities in Taiwan pulled surveillance footage that showed Chan struggling to drag a pink suitcase out of their hotel.

Police detectives in Hong Kong questioned him again. This time, he confessed and disclosed the location of her body, a field near the Zhuwei train station on the northern outskirts of Taipei. The police found it that night.

But the Hong Kong police could not charge Chan with murder for a crime committed in Taiwan. Instead, he was held and eventually convicted on money laundering charges for using Poon’s credit cards after her death.

In April, a court in Hong Kong sentenced him to 29 months in prison. With time served while awaiting trial and good behavior, he could be released as soon as October.

An autopsy indicated Poon had been four to five months pregnant.

‘Trojan Horse’ or Justice?

Violent crime is relatively rare in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the case received extensive coverage by local news outlets when Chan was first arrested.

Some reports noted it might be difficult to prosecute him on murder charges because of international red tape, but for months, there was no sign the case would be at the center of an international dispute.

Then, in December, prosecutors in Taiwan obtained an arrest warrant for Chan.

The government said it had reached out three times to authorities in Hong Kong to discuss how he might be extradited. All three requests went unanswered, according to Chiu Chui-cheng, a deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the agency responsible for policy toward China.

There were two interrelated problems: China does not recognize the government of Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory. And Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Two months later, just before the anniversary of Poon’s killing, Lam made her move.

Her government submitted papers to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council that cited the killing in proposing legislation that would allow extraditions on a “case-by-case” basis to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong lacks a formal extradition agreement.

The plan covered Taiwan — but also mainland China. And that was a big deal.

Hong Kong had never allowed extraditions to mainland China — a safeguard agreed upon when Britain returned the territory and Beijing promised it a high degree of autonomy. (The measure prohibits extradition to any part of China, which complicates any deal with Taiwan because of Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the democratic, self-governing island.)

And yet Lam sought to sidestep the legislature’s regular committee process and put the proposal on a fast track with an unusually short 20-day public review.

Opposition built steadily. Thousands attended a protest against the measure in March, and in April, tens of thousands rallied against it outside the Legislative Council. Lawmakers arguing about the bill scuffled in the legislature; one was carried out on a stretcher.

Lam, a career servant who was installed by Beijing in 2017, assured the public that the legislation would not apply to political crimes. But even within her insular council of advisers — like herself, unelected — there was unease. The territory’s top finance officials, for example, were dismayed when they learned the bill would also allow Beijing to begin requesting freezes on assets in Hong Kong.

Then in May, Taiwan dramatically undercut Lam’s argument by declaring it would not seek Chan’s extradition even if the bill passed.

“Without the removal of threats to the personal safety of nationals going to or living in Hong Kong caused by being extradited to mainland China,” said Chiu, the deputy minister, “we will not agree to the case-by-case transfer proposed by the Hong Kong authorities.”

‘It Is The Right Thing to Do’

Lam has said she decided to pursue the extradition law herself, without prodding from Xi or other Chinese leaders. But China’s propaganda outlets took a hard line against the protesters, accusing them of conspiring with China’s enemies abroad, and several senior Communist Party officials in Beijing endorsed the legislation.

That helped transform the debate into a broader fight over the erosion of civil liberties under Chinese rule — and Hong Kong’s future as a global financial center.

For five years, since the failure of the Umbrella Movement demanding free elections, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition had been on the defensive. But the extradition bill gave it a chance to rally the public against something easy to understand: the possibility of being arrested and sent to mainland China.

On Friday, Lam quietly traveled across the border to the mainland city of Shenzhen, where she consulted with senior Chinese officials. Some had flown in from Beijing, and a few of the party’s top experts on Hong Kong were there, too. (Xi was out of the country, celebrating his birthday with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at a regional summit in Tajikistan.)

There was a consensus: Given the public’s reaction, Lam should delay the legislation indefinitely.

Announcing the decision on Saturday, she raised Chan’s case again in defending the measure but finally acknowledged that Taiwan’s position meant there was no rush to pass it. “We will adopt the most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements,” she said.

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