Auckland, Oct 28(ANI): Chinese authorities have assured New Zealand police that the 23-year-old alleged killer of Indian-origin taxi driver Hiren Mohini would not face the death sentence if he is found guilty.
Mohini was killed in a frenzied knife attack on January 31, and police believe that his killer was his last passenger, who attacked him to avoid paying a 15.20-dollar fare.
The murder suspect, named in Auckland District Court files as Zhen Xiao, had fled the country after the killing, and was located and detained by Chinese authorities in Shanghai in June.
Now, in a legal first between New Zealand and China, Zhen is expected to stand trial in China over murder charges.
China still has the death penalty, but New Zealand police agreed that the trial could be held there only if Zhen was not executed if found guilty.
"I have verbally been given that assurance. It would be life imprisonment on a similar tariff to what you would expect to receive in New Zealand," the New Zealand Herald quoted Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones, officer in charge of the homicide investigation, as saying.
In New Zealand life imprisonment means a minimum of 10 years in prison, but a judge can also impose a longer non-parole period.
Detective Jones had earlier said that Zhen was likely to be tried by a panel of judges, and not a jury.
He had also said that the New Zealand police were working through the logistics of evidence and witnesses.
"We have translated a reasonable amount of documents into Mandarin for use and it is just a question of the Chinese judiciary deciding what they want and whether or not they want witnesses to go there or not," Detective Jones had said.
He further said that as officer in charge of the inquiry he would probably attend the hearing, but it was not known if Mohini's family would travel to China. (ANI)