Man arrested for hugging wife-to-be

2011-10-14 07:48

Beijing – Police in China arrested a man 28 years after he was accused of hugging a woman against her will – a serious charge at the time – only to find he had married his “victim”, state media said today.

Chen Zonghao was accused of “hooliganism” – a charge that no longer exists under Chinese law – in the 1980s, at a time when China toughened measures against “immoral” behaviour, the official China Daily newspaper said.

He had allegedly hugged a female colleague against her consent in the southern island of Hainan and the woman’s parents reported the incident to the police, prompting Chen to flee to his hometown in nearby Guangdong province.

Hainan police officers finally arrested Chen in Guangdong on October 3 – three decades on – after driving 1 100km in a strong typhoon, the report said. But they found he had married the alleged victim. The couple now have two sons and a daughter and run a shop together.

An officer at Hainan’s Wanning police station, who would not give her name, confirmed the case when contacted by AFP. “He is on bail and it’s not clear yet what we will do next, the police are still investigating and will decide,” she said.

A spokesperson for police in Hainan told the China Daily that they “still had a responsibility to arrest the criminal and close the case”, even though the charge no longer exists.

“But we have to consider the special circumstances, since the victim has married her assailant and said she doesn’t want her husband to go to prison,” he was quoted as saying.

The hooliganism charge was deleted from China’s criminal law in 1997. But in the 1980s, it could result in the death penalty as authorities cracked down on “immoral” acts such as gang fighting and vandalism, the report said.

At the time, China was only just starting to open up to the outside world and there were still very strict moral standards governing relationships between men and women.

A police officer told the Hainan-based South China Metropolitan Daily that they are trying to explain the special circumstances of the case to local prosecutors in the hope they will withdraw the lawsuit.

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