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Hong Kong legislators brawl over contentious extradition law

Hong Kong legislators brawl over contentious extradition law

Hong Kong's legislative assembly descended into chaos today as politicians brawled in the chamber over controversial changes to the territory's extradition law.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Hong Kong is trying to enact changes to its extradition law, that would allow people accused of a crime, including foreigners, to be extradited from the city to countries without formal extradition agreements, including mainland China.

Taiwan authorities said on Friday that it has no intention of asking Hong Kong to return a murder suspect because it is concerned that Hong Kong's extradition law puts its people at risk of being snatched by China.

The meeting to discuss the controversial extradition bill was originally chaired by pro-democracy lawmaker James To, but the pro-China camp unseated To earlier this week and replaced him with their choice of chairman, Abraham Shek.

Opponents fear the law would erode rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub - freedoms that were guaranteed when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The fighting erupted after pro-Beijing and pro-democracy legislators disputed who should oversee the legislation.

"We couldn't possibly agree to the suggestion that our meeting chaired by James To should be suspended in any way, because it is completely constitutional and legal", pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo said after the meeting.

Historically Hong Kong has baulked at mainland extraditions because of the opacity of China's criminal justice system and its liberal use of the death penalty.

"We laughed at Taiwan's legislature in the past, but Hong Kong's is even worse", she told reporters.

Even Hong Kong's normally conservative business community has expressed opposition.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they can not help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

The U.S. commission even said U.S. navy might have to stop visits to Hong Kong.

China rejected that saying Hong Kong affairs were an internal matter.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has insisted on the need for arrangements to extradite offenders to China and Taiwan, an island Beijing claims as its own, and other countries that don't have extradition treaties with the city.

The Hong Kong government will continue to liaise with Taiwan over the homicide case, Cheung said.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the amendments must be passed to close a "loophole" under which the government has been unable to extradite a Hong Kong man, Chan Tong-kai, accused of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan a year ago.

A member of Hong Kong's Democratic Party reportedly yelled at a pro-Beijing colleague, "Don't be a sinner for a thousand years!"

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014's pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.