In a historic first, a man accused of murder in New Zealand, went to a trial in China, and has been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a Chinese court.
The successful prosecution of an Auckland taxi driver’s murderer by Chinese authorities has strengthened links between Chinese and New Zealand police, a statement by the New Zealand police says.
The accused, Xiao Zhen fled from New Zealand to his hometown, Shanghai, after stabbing Indian taxi driver, Hiren Mohini, to death in January last year.
Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones of Auckland Central’s Financial Crime Unit happened to be on call the weekend it happened.
It was the first time someone charged with murder in New Zealand had been tried in another country.
The 23-year Chinese man was located and detained in Shanghai by Chinese authorities on 10 June.
“It was a completely different process to here,” says Hywel, who led the investigation, negotiated relationships with Chinese authorities and attended the August hearing in Shanghai.
“Even for a guilty hearing in New Zealand you’d expect to be in court for a week or two. The initial hearing was over and done with in half a day.”
All evidence was read out to a judging panel of three people. No witnesses took the stand. At key stages, the defendant was asked if he agreed with the evidence and confirmed he did.
At the end of the hearing, the panel retired to consider all evidence presented. The court reconvened two weeks later and delivered the verdict that Xiao was guilty of wounding causing death.
Under Chinese law Xiao could have faced the death penalty but New Zealand Police, together with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Crown Law, sought early assurances it wouldn’t be used.
Xiao was sentenced to 15 years in a Chinese jail, which is comparable to what Hywel says he would expect from a New Zealand court, the NZ police statement says.