Asia-Pacific

China police 'mistakenly beat boss's wife'

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Three Chinese police officers have been disciplined for beating up the wife of a senior local official.

The men were reported to have mistaken Chen Yulian for a petitioner, trying to see officials about a grievance.

They attacked her as she was trying to enter her husband's office building in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Analysts say the case highlights the rough treatment many Chinese petitioners say is meted out to them when they bring their complaints.

Chinese media have reported that the men were plain clothes officers, employed to subdue petitioners outside the government building.

Reports said Mrs Chen was knocked to the ground in the incident last month and beaten for more than 15 minutes before being detained.

The authorities said she suffered minor injuries but other reports said she was still struggling to walk.

It later emerged that the woman was in fact attempting to raise a grievance with officials, over the death of her daughter in what she believed was a case of medical malpractice.

But her husband's position meant she could not speak to the authorities directly.

He was reported to be in charge of maintaining stability and looking after petitioners.

'Battered'

"This incident is a total misunderstanding," a local police bureau official was quoted by Shanghai Daily as saying.

"We didn't mean to beat the wife of a big boss."

But Chinese internet users have said Mrs Chen's identity should not matter and that no petitioners should be subject to violence.

Image caption Thousands of petitioners attempt to air their grievances every day

"Does this mean the police are not supposed to beat leaders' wives, but the ordinary people can be battered?" the China Daily quoted one unnamed person as saying.

Thousands of petitioners attempt to air their grievances with local officials every day in China, often in disputes over land ownership or employment.

Many complain that they are treated roughly by security forces.

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