Fri, Feb 04, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Chinese court to try suspect in New Zealand murder

AFP, WELLINGTON

A Chinese man facing a murder charge in New Zealand will be tried in China where he was arrested, with an agreement he will not face the death penalty if convicted, police said yesterday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones, who led the murder inquiry in Auckland, said the message was clear to people who thought they could escape justice by fleeing New Zealand.

“If you are going to commit a crime of this nature, then we will pursue you and will do our very best to make sure we get justice for the family,” he said.

Zhen Xiao is accused of stabbing a taxi driver to death a year ago and then fleeing to his home country.

He was tracked down and arrested six months later in Shanghai, where he will soon go on trial.

New Zealand and China do not have an extradition treaty and it is believed to be the first time a person accused of committing murder in New Zealand will stand trial in another country.

Jones said Chinese authorities would come to New Zealand, probably in the next few weeks, to take statements from witnesses.

The trial would be before a panel of judges and not a jury, and although New Zealand witnesses would give evidence, it would be taken under oath in New Zealand and they would not go to China, Jones said.

“Their sworn depositions are all that will be required,” he said.

China executes convicted murderers, but the New Zealand government has brokered an agreement that if convicted, Zhen would not get the death penalty, but instead be given life imprisonment.

“I have verbally been given that assurance,” Jones said.

“It would be life imprisonment on a similar tariff to what you would expect to receive in New Zealand,” he said.

In New Zealand life imprisonment means a minimum of 10 years in prison, but a judge can also impose a longer non-parole period.

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