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April 9, 2016

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Prime suspect in Beijing hotel attack captured

A MAN has been captured for alleged assault and attempted kidnapping in a Beijing hotel after an online video clip sparked widespread anger, while the victim said yesterday she is hoping to get back to normal after her harrowing ordeal.

The 24-year-old suspect, identified only as Li, was apprehended about 9pm on Thursday in Xuchang, central China’s Henan Province, a city about 760 kilometers from the capital, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said yesterday.

Footage of the assault was uploaded to Weibo by the victim, nicknamed “Wanwan,” on Tuesday. It was captured by a hotel security camera about 10:50pm on Sunday, though it is still unclear how the victim got access to it.

In the footage, a man in a black leather coat and jeans is seen trying to throttle a woman in the corridor of an Yitel hotel in east Beijing’s Chaoyang District.

Wanwan said in her Weibo post that the assault lasted five to six minutes. A hotel staff member is seen watching her struggle but does not intervene, despite the victim shouting “Help!” and “I do not know him.”

Wanwan attempted to escape into the elevator but failed, and the man dragged her toward the stairway. The attack ended only when another female guest went to help.

“There were people watching, but they didn’t save me,” Wanwan said.

“The atrocity lasted for five or six minutes in a place with security cameras, but no security guard or managerial staff came to my rescue. If I hadn’t been rescued, where would he have taken me?” she said.

“If I had been looking for my key outside my room, would I have been pushed into the room and raped, and ultimately forced into prostitution?”

Wanwan, who lives and works in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, said in a new Weibo post yesterday that she was grateful to all the people who had spoken out after seeing the footage of her attack, adding that she had been “worn out” in the days since her ordeal.

She said she now wanted to get back to her “quiet life” and hoped the media would respect her privacy. She said she was pleased a suspect had been arrested, and that the hotel had apologized.

In an interview with Hangzhou’s Qianjiang Evening News earlier this week, Wanwan said she had been on a business trip to Beijing at the time of the assault, and had returned home on Monday.

Her original Weibo post has been viewed more than 6.7 million times and generated a huge reaction.

“It is shocking and sad that in a society under the rule of law, the suspect could be so savage,” one person wrote after seeing the clip.

“My colleagues and I have membership cards for the hotel chain, and we are mostly women. If the hotel does not give people a satisfactory reply, we will stop booking this hotel,” said another.

Yitel is part of the Homeinns group, which has about 3,000 hotels in 345 cities across China, according to its website.

The group issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it had identified “problems in security management and customer service during the incident.

“We hereby sincerely apologize to the victim and the general public,” it said, pledging improvement.

The hotel where the attack took place has suspended operations, and several Chinese booking websites, including Ctrip and Elong, have removed it from their listings.

An unnamed official with the Chaoyang tourism authority was quoted by the Beijing Times as saying that the hotel “will definitely be punished.”

“It will be warned for not reporting the event in a timely manner,” he said.

“If a police investigation reveals any delinquency, it is likely to receive a stronger punishment such as a fine or a reduced rating,” he said.

While most Internet users called for a public inquiry into the attack, many others expressed anger at the inaction of the people who witnessed the attack but did nothing to help.

“Would it have been fair to just watch if the assailant and the victim had known each other?” a person wrote on Weibo.

“Behind the event is complicated social psychology,” said an editorial on the website of China Radio International.

“We need people’s moral awareness to stop such violence, and also encouragement as well as improved mechanisms from the government. May this event prompt us to think and make changes.”


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