Shanghai: A Shanghai court sentenced a Chinese man, who admitted killing a New Zealand taxi driver before fleeing to his homeland, to 15 years in prison on Wednesday.

Shanghai's Second Intermediate Court handed down the sentence, citing Xiao Zhen's remorse over the killing as a reason for not imposing a harsher sentence.

The 24-year-old Xiao was arrested last year in China for the alleged murder of Auckland taxi driver Hiren Mohini, 39, in January 2010. He was tried in Shanghai because China and New Zealand do not have an extradition treaty.

The judge who read out the sentence did not make any further comment. Xiao was convicted not of murder but of the Chinese crime that can be translated into English as "intentional assault."

New Zealand police officer Hywel Jones, who attended but did not speak at the trial, said the verdict was "fair" and that he intended to return to New Zealand.

Xiao's aunt, Li Liping, said the family did not expect him to appeal the sentence. "He should be punished," she said. "It is our fault that we did not teach him well."

New Zealand media reported the government was promised Xiao would not face the death penalty if convicted.

China by law does not extradite its citizens and says it can put them on trial itself regardless of where a crime occurred. The number of such cases should rise as more Chinese citizens travel and live outside the country, opening the door to legal complications.

Cooperation from foreign countries opposed to capital punishment in such cases, for example in providing evidence, often depends on whether authorities promise not to apply the death penalty, which is more often used in China than anywhere else.