Chinese trial of New Zealand murder suspect provokes protests

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WELLINGTON - China’s refusal to allow a Chinese citizen accused of murder in New Zealand to be returned to that country for trial provoked protests Thursday.

One legal expert even called the refusal and “insult” to New Zealand.

Zhen Xiao, 23, was arrested in China where he fled after allegedly murdering Hiren Mohini, 39, an Indian taxi driver and father of two, in Auckland in January 2010 in what was called a frenzied knife attack.

New Zealand has no extradition treaty with China because it will not negotiate with countries that maintain the death penalty for convicted criminals.

Beijing has refused to return Zhen, who is a Chinese citizen, to New Zealand for trial, but has formally confirmed in writing that he would not be executed if found guilty, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the New Zealand Herald.

The spokesman said Chinese authorities were preparing to travel to Auckland to gather evidence for his trial which will be the first time a person accused of murder in New Zealand has been prosecuted in another country.

Legal expert Bill Hodge, who is an associate professor at the University of Auckland, told the paper China’s refusal to return Zhen for trial was “an insult to the jurisdiction of New Zealand”.

He said criminal proceedings had taken place in the country where the crime was committed for hundreds of years. New Zealand, as a sovereign nation, had a responsibility to deliver justice to Mohini’s widow and two daughters, he said.

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