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Uproar in China over handcuffing of teenage girl

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 8:25 AM EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Accusations on social media say a 13-year-old was paraded in handcuffs
  • A local party chief and police officer have been suspended pending an investigation
  • The party official denies the girl was paraded around, a Chinese website reports

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Two local officials in southwestern China have been suspended from their jobs following allegations on social media that a teenage girl was handcuffed and paraded around town after an altercation with a deputy mayor.

Authorities have placed Yuan Zehong, the top Communist Party official in Kele Township, Guizhou Province, and Chen Song, a local police officer, under investigation following the allegations, the county government said in a statement Tuesday, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

Accusations surfaced this week on the popular social media platform Weibo alleging that on April 6, Yuan and other officials handcuffed a 13-year-old girl, Rao Yao, and marched her up and down a street for about 20 minutes after she accidentally spilled water on a government car carrying the deputy mayor.

According to the allegations, the deputy mayor had physically fought with the girl, who was detained for 12 hours by authorities.

That version of events seems to have first been published by the Weibo user @yww272651564. But that account no longer appears to exist. In its report, Xinhua referenced an unidentified social media account as the source of the accusations.

The claims quickly spread in Chinese social media, with tens of thousands of people commenting on and re-posting them. Many users said the officials' actions were shameful.

But Yuan and local security officials have disputed the allegations against them.

In an article published on the website news.chengdu.com, Yuan said that the girl was handcuffed after she and two other family members kicked and beat the deputy mayor. He said the girl was put in a police vehicle and wasn't paraded around, the website reported.

According to a report on the case by local law enforcement officials cited by the website of the state-run newspaper People's Daily, the girl was taken to a vehicle parked 20 meters away from the scene. Officials didn't realize the girl was as young as 13 because of her height, according to the report.

It is unclear why the allegations only came to light several weeks after they are reported to have occurred.

The team of senior county officials and police who are investigating the incident was set up on Monday, Xinhua reported.

CNN's Lucrezia Seu and Feng Ke in Beijing, and Esther Pang in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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