China murder trial 'insult to NZ jurisdiction'

By Edward Gay

A shrine to Hiren Mohini set up by the Indian taxi community of Auckland. Photo / Natalie Slade
A shrine to Hiren Mohini set up by the Indian taxi community of Auckland. Photo / Natalie Slade

Chinese authorities are to travel to New Zealand to gather evidence on the murder of a taxi driver in Auckland.

Hiren Mohini died of multiple stab wounds in Mt Eden last January after picking up a fare in the CBD.

A police manhunt ended nearly six months later when Zhen Xiao was arrested by authorities in China.

Zhen will stand trial in China, despite Mr Mohini having been killed in New Zealand.

As New Zealand police await the arrival of Chinese authorities, a legal academic said yesterday that shifting a murder trial was an "insult to the jurisdiction" of New Zealand.

Associate Professor Bill Hodge of the University of Auckland said criminal proceedings have taken place in the country where the crime was committed for hundreds of years.

"To me, it is an insult to the jurisdiction of New Zealand."

Professor Hodge said New Zealand, as a sovereign nation, had a responsibility to Mr Mohini's widow and two daughters to deliver justice.

"That is the duty of a sovereign. They've done their best but they cannot deliver justice to that woman and her two children and that is the regret."

He said if Zhen was to stand trial in China, then he should be tried under New Zealand law as it was at the time the murder happened.

It is believed to be the first time that a person accused of committing murder in New Zealand will stand trial in another country.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Chris Wilson said New Zealand's Crown Law Office had been working with the Chinese authorities under the treaty between New Zealand and China on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

The two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Mr Wilson said a specific date had not been set for the trial but it was likely to be in Shanghai.

"Chinese authorities are planning to come to New Zealand to view the evidence collected and collated by the Auckland police who investigated Mr Hiren Mohini's homicide."

Mr Wilson said it was not yet known if New Zealand witnesses would be required by the Chinese authorities.

He said New Zealand had been given formal written confirmation that Zhen would not face the death penalty if found guilty.

Zhen will be tried under China's inquisitory criminal trial system, in which a judge will ask questions of the witnesses and reach a verdict on the evidence.

THE CASE

* Hiren Mohini was stabbed to death after taking a fare from Auckland City to Mt Eden in the early hours of January 31 last year.
* Police launched a manhunt for Zhen Xiao, the man they believe killed Mr Mohini.

* Zhen fled to China after the killing and was arrested by Chinese authorities in June and charged with murder.

* An appeal raised more than $100,000 for Mr Mohini's family.

- NZ Herald

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