Trial of Xiao Zhen
The 2011 trial in Shanghai, China of Xiao Zhen (Chinese: 肖真; pinyin: Xiāo Zhēn) for the murder of Hiren Mohini in Mount Eden, New Zealand, is notable as the first time a New Zealand murder has been tried in a foreign court. In the Chinese media, the case was frequently referred to as "New Zealand's first murder case" (新西兰第一命案).
Hiren Mohini, a taxi driver born in Mumbai, had picked up a fare in central Auckland and gone to Mt Eden between 1am and 2am on 31 January 2010. In Mt Eden he was fatally stabbed, apparently by a passenger. Police found a knife and soon had a suspect, based partly on CCTV footage. NZ$100,000 was raised from the New Zealand public to support Mohini's family.
The suspect, Xiao Zhen, a 23-year-old kitchen worker at the SkyCity casino complex, left the country, apparently bound for China to visit a sick grandfather on 4 February. China does not have an extradition agreement with New Zealand and in any case does not extradite Chinese citizens even when an extradition treaty does exist.
After reciprocal visits between the New Zealand and Chinese police, Xiao Zhen was arrested in Shanghai in June 2010. All the New Zealand evidence was translated into Chinese by the New Zealand police for the trial in Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court at which the suspect confessed. Xiao Zhen claimed that Mohini had verbally insulted him after he boarded the taxi. Xiao demanded that he stop the taxi and refused to pay the fare. A struggle ensued, and Xiao Zhen stabbed the driver with a kitchen knife. The trial lasted only a few hours, with no in-person evidence presented, but Mandarin translations of witness statements and evidence were handed up to the judges. A verdict and sentence was expected on 17 August 2011. On 17 August Xiao Zhen was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Before the commencement of the trial the New Zealand authorities obtained formal written assurances that the death penalty would not be invoked. New Zealand does not have the death penalty for murder.
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A Chinese man has confessed in court to killing a New Zealand taxi driver in a case that breaks new legal ground for the two countries.
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Mr Zhen, a kitchen worker at SkyCity casino, was identified from security camera images as the prime suspect.
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Xiao admitted guilt at the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, saying he felt sorry for the victim and his family.
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"We have reviewed the case and found that the defendant showed regret during the trial and the lawyer pleaded for a lighter sentence. The court approved that, and the final ruling is that he should serve 15 years, and be deprived of political rights for a further four," said Judge Jiang Zhengyu. Li Liping, Xiao's aunt, said after the verdict that she felt Xiao Zhen deserved the sentence. "Our family failed to bring him up properly," she said, tearfully. "We do not think we will appeal and we think 15 years is correct. We now feel we can look the victim's family in the face".
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Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones said the Auckland City Police handed the case over to the Chinese after formal written assurances by the Chinese government that the death penalty would not be applied.
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'To me, it is an insult to the jurisdiction of New Zealand.'