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August 3, 2011

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Local student admits killing NZ taxi driver

A local resident who stabbed a taxi driver to death in New Zealand went on trial in Shanghai yesterday and pleaded guilty to charges of intentional injury.

Xiao Zhen, 25, was studying in New Zealand. In the early morning of January 31, 2010, he stabbed the driver more than 10 times as he wrestled with him after refusing to pay the taxi fare. The fatal stab went into the victim's heart, prosecutors said.

Xiao admitted guilt at the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, saying he felt sorry for the victim and his family.

The Shanghai native told the court that he and the taxi driver, Hiren Mohini, had a quarrel after he got into the taxi, and he got mad when the driver began to abuse him.

Xiao said he then told the driver to stop the car though he hadn't reached his destination, and refused to pay the fare, which caused the fight.

"I just wanted to get freed from him," Xiao said, explaining why he pulled the knife out of his bag. And he claimed he had no idea that he stabbed the driver's heart.

Xiao fled in a rush, leaving the knife in the taxi, and he fell down and hurt his leg on his way home. A bag, a towel and a hat which had his blood and DNA had been dumped in a trash can, prosecutors said.

Xiao admitted that he rushed back to China six days later, after he saw media reports that the driver had died. He was arrested by police in June last year.

No sentence was announced yesterday.

"Please forgive me ... I am still young, have no previous criminal record and am the only child in the family," he said in court. "I was scared of the result so I did not surrender. Please consider these reasons for giving me a lenient sentence."

Although his act of violence was not premeditated, Xiao meant to hurt the driver, according to prosecutors.

"What he did is a serious crime and the sentence should be more than 10 years to life in prison," they argued.

Xiao's family wrote a letter to the family of Mohini, but did not receive a reply.

Falguni Mohini, widow of the victim, said she hoped Xiao would receive the maximum sentence of 17 or 18 years imprisonment.

"Every day he should realize that he did the wrong thing," she was quoted as saying by a New Zealand TV station.

The family said it decided not to go to the trial because of the distance and expense, particularly with children, and also because it would be too hard emotionally to go through the ordeal of listening to the details of Mohini's death again.


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