Chinese gets 15 years for killing NZ taxi driver

AP News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2011 5:09 AM
Chinese gets 15 years for killing NZ taxi driver

A Shanghai court sentenced a Chinese man who admitted he killed a New Zealand taxi driver to 15 years in prison Wednesday, citing his remorse as a reason for not imposing a harsher sentence.

Xiao Zhen was arrested last year in China for the alleged murder of taxi driver Hiren Mohini, 39, in Auckland in January 2010. He was tried in Shanghai because China and New Zealand do not have an extradition treaty.

The judge who read out the sentence in Shanghai's Second Intermediate Court did not make any further comment. Xiao, 24, was convicted not of murder but of the Chinese crime that can be translated into English as "intentional assault."

In addition to his 15-year prison sentence, Xiao was deprived of political rights for another four years, barring him from such activities as voting, publishing or being a manager in a state-owned company.

Auckland police detective sergeant Hywel Jones, who attended but did not speak at the trial, said he had informed Mohini's wife of the verdict.

"I think the verdict was fair. I think it's what we hoped for. And I think the sentence was according to the crime," Jones said.

"From my side, that's the end of the case, so I get back to New Zealand. I've already spoken to Falguni, Hiren's widow, and she's happy with the outcome," he said.

Xiao's aunt, Li Liping, said the family did not expect him to appeal the sentence because he deserved it.

"It is our fault that we did not teach him well," she said. "I want to offer deep apologies to the family of the victim. May his soul rest in peace."

New Zealand media reported the government was promised Xiao would not face the death penalty if convicted.

China by law does not extradite its citizens and says it can put them on trial itself regardless of where a crime occurred. The number of such cases should rise as more Chinese citizens travel and live outside the country, opening the door to legal complications.

Cooperation from foreign countries opposed to capital punishment in such cases, for example in providing evidence, often depends on whether authorities promise not to apply the death penalty _ which is more often used in China than anywhere else.

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Researcher Fu Ting contributed.