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Home >> China
UPDATED: 16:36, July 26, 2004
FM urges US to punish officer for beating
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Photo:Lawyer of Chinese businesswoman Zhao Yan, Stanley Legan checks her wounds at his New York office, July 23. The 37-year-old Zhao Yan was beaten by a US border inspector for no reason on Wednesday near the famous Niagara Falls.(Xinhua Photo)
Lawyer of Chinese businesswoman Zhao Yan, Stanley Legan checks her wounds at his New York office, July 23. The 37-year-old Zhao Yan was beaten by a US border inspector for no reason on Wednesday near the famous Niagara Falls.(Xinhua Photo)
China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing urged the US to make serious and thorough investigations into the case in which a Chinese businesswoman was pepper-sprayed and beaten by a US border inspector.

In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Collin Powell July 26, Li urged the US side to investigate into the case and punish the inspector involved, according to a Xinhua report.

Powell promised he would look into the matter.

Robert Rhodes was charged on Friday with civil rights violations after the Wednesday beating of 37-year-old Zhao Yan near the famous Niagara Falls.

Rhodes pepper-sprayed and struck Zhao after confusing her with suspected drug smugglers.

The Chinese Consulate General in New York expressed great concern to the case and urged the US side to make a serious and complete investigation and punish the people responsible.

Zhao, from North China's Tianjin, said she felt deeply humiliated.

Details about the case
A US border inspector faces criminal charges for beating a Chinese businesswoman.

Robert Rhodes was charged on Friday with civil rights violations after the Wednesday beating of 37-year-old Zhao Yan near the famous Niagara Falls.

Rhodes pepper-sprayed and struck Zhao after confusing her with suspected drug smugglers.

The Chinese Consulate General in New York expressed great concern to the case and urged the US side to make a serious and complete investigation and punish the people responsible.

The preparatory group of the US-China Free Trade Promotion Society has also lodged a protest to the US State Department, complaining against such serious violation of Chinese business people's human rights.

Zhao, from North China's Tianjin, said she felt deeply humiliated.

She and two other women were crossing the Rainbow Bridge over Niagara Falls on the US-Canada border late last Wednesday when Customs and Border Protection officers confiscated marijuana from a male pedestrian.

Photo:Chinese businesswoman Zhao Yan gives a detailed account of a US inspector beating her in his lawyer's office in New York, July 23.(Xinhua Photo)
Chinese businesswoman Zhao Yan gives a detailed account of a US inspector beating her in his lawyer's office in New York, July 23.(Xinhua Photo)
The three were trying to take pictures when the officers inside a house nearby called and then rushed out of the building.

Rhodes approached Zhao and then pepper-sprayed her.

Associated Press reported Rhodes then threw her against a wall and kneed her on the head as she knelt on the ground. He then struck her head on the ground while holding her hair. The other officers joined him.

"I have been to many countries in the past for business purposes, and the United States is the most barbarous," Zhao was quoted as saying in a report on the website of People's Daily.

She travelled to the US on a business visa.

Zhao said she told the officers she had legal documents, including a passport and visa, but they did not stop beating her.

After she managed to display the documents she was told "it is a misunderstanding," Zhao said.

Now she wants to return home as soon as possible, but her lawyer, Stanley Legan, said she would sue for US$5 million in compensation.

"Subsequent investigation reveals (the victim) had nothing to do with the marijuana smuggling but was merely a tourist who happened to be in the area," a supervisor said in an affidavit obtained by Associated Press.

Senior Special Agent Steven MacMartin, who interviewed Zhao several hours later, noted that "both of her eyes were nearly swollen shut, that she had a large swollen area on the front of her forehead, that she had bruises around the eyes, and that she had a contusion high up on her forehead. (The woman) also complained of a scraped knee," MacMartin said.

In a statement written as part of normal procedure, Rhodes said after marijuana was found on the male pedestrian, another officer told him to go get three women who were believed to be traveling with him.

Rhodes said he went outside and asked the Chinese woman and two others to come into the inspection station but that they ran.

Zhao said she did not while the two others do. She was wondering what kind of help the police might need and approached the glass door.

He said he grabbed the nearest one and sprayed her with pepper spray when she swung her arms at him.

Rhodes said the woman scratched his arm and they both fell to the ground.

Rhodes has reportedly been transfered to a local court and faces criminal charges. He could face years in prison if convicted.

Source: Xinhua/China Daily

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