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Mainland, Hong Kong Plan Talks on Extradition

The Hong Kong Government plans to talk to the mainland at the earliest possible date to discuss extradition of Hong Kong-resident criminals arrested on the mainland, Margaret Chan, deputy secretary for security, said yesterday.

Both sides will also discuss the coverage of respective jurisdictional power. But no definitive timetable has been set, Chan told the Legislative Council's security panel meeting.

Chan was answering concerns raised by LegCo members over the verdict of a mainland court on four Hong Kong men found guilty of robbery committed in Hong Kong.

A senior Hong Kong security official commented that it was the right judicial decision reached according to Chinese mainland criminal law.

Liberal Party Legislative Councillor Howard Young remarked during the meeting that "as both the Hong Kong and mainland jurisdictions are independent of each other under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', commenting on the mainland verdict should not be necessary."

In the case of a gang of six thieves, including four Hong Kong residents and two mainlanders charged with robbing an Israeli and a Hong Kong resident of diamonds in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on July 17, 2002, mainland police intelligence led to the case being solved. Mainland law enforcement authorities in the midst of their investigation discovered that the four Hong Kong residents had taken part.

Young added, "Had the four Hong Kong residents been wanted by the Hong Kong Police and then been netted by mainland police, there could have been room for negotiation between the two jurisdictions. But, in this case, I don't think the Hong Kong Government can do anything."

The government would not take any initiative to seek the extradition of the Hong Kong criminals arrested, as both sides have not yet signed any extradition agreement, Chan told the council.

Under the Basic Law and the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong and the mainland are two separate jurisdictions.

According to Chan, the Hong Kong Police had no foreknowledge of any Hong Kong residents' participation at the time the case was reported to them. Rather, they had only suspected that two mainlanders were involved in the crime and, therefore, reported the case to the Guangdong Public Security Bureau and asked for their assistance in investigating the pair.

"When we raised the issue of whether the mainland court has any judicial power over the four Hong Kong residents, we were told that, according to the judgment handed down by the Maoming Intermediate People's Court on March 25, 2003, the gang of six, including the four Hong Kong residents, was charged with robbery under Article 263 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, which provides that 'whoever steals public or private property by violence, coercion or other methods shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment'," she said.

(China Daily HK Edition December 5, 2003)

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