Hong Kong lawmakers brawl over controversial extradition bill

Hong Kong legislators brawl over contentious extradition law

Hong Kong lawmakers scuffled with each other on Saturday over the government's proposed amendments to the territory's extradition law.

Pro-democracy lawmakers scuffled with those loyal to Beijing, over legal amendments that would extend China's powers over the former British colony.

The bill, which is still under consideration, would allow transfers on a case-by-case basis to all jurisdictions that the city is yet to sign an extradition deal with, including Taiwan and mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported.

Its opponents fear the law would erode rights and legal protections in the city - which is supposed to enjoy freedoms that were guaranteed when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Tempers boiled over when pro-democracy lawmakers and the pro-Beijing majority tried to hold separate hearings on the bill.

Legislator Gary Fan was removed from the floor on a stretcher after he fell while trying to take a microphone away from another lawmaker.

She cited the case of 20-year-old resident Chan Tong Kai, who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend, Ms Poon Hiu Wing, also from Hong Kong, during a Valentine's Day holiday in Taipei last year, and then flew home.

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Debate over a controversial extradition law turned violent in Hong Kong after wound-up legislators fought each other amid a crowd of reporters.

Hong Kong's Bar Association has said the law lacked sufficient safeguards for individuals to face a fair trial in mainland China and it noted difficulties in validating any evidence put forward by Chinese authorities.

The harsh sentences were seen as an effort by the Hong Kong government to draw a line under the protests amid pressure from Beijing.

Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said Friday the government would "further explain the proposed fugitive law change to the public", according to the government's press office.

Hong Kong's opposition democratic lawmakers hold less than a third of the seats in the legislature, meaning they can not veto the bill when it goes to a final vote, possibly in the next few weeks. This would make it the largest rally since the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests.

Yet Taiwan authorities have since said they opposed Hong Kong's extradition bill, and won't agree to an ad hoc extradition arrangement for the murder suspect even if the bill was passed. Last September, the government banned the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP). A Taiwanese activist, Lee Ming-che, is now serving a five-year sentence in China after being convicted by a Chinese court in November 2017 on charges of subverting state power for holding online political lectures and helping the families of jailed Chinese dissidents.

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