Malaysian police question Chinese women

Malaysia police have interviewed three Chinese citizens who claimed they were stripped and mistreated while in custody, widening an investigation into a scandal over a nude video of another Chinese woman in police lockup, a lawyer said Wednesday. The three women say they were forced to strip in an open area and perform squats while being held in a Kuala Lumpur police station earlier this month for allegedly having fake passports, a charge that later proved false, said their attorney, Sankara Nair.

Their claims came amid a nationwide uproar caused by the video showing an unidentified Chinese female detainee being made to strip in front of a policewoman and do squats. The woman's whereabouts are not known, and the video was shot surreptitiously using a camera-phone by an unknown person and delivered to an opposition lawmaker last week, who went public with it.

It is not clear whether the woman in the video is a Chinese citizen or an ethnic Chinese Malaysian, but the issue has also raised concerns that police unfairly target Chinese. Ethnic Chinese comprise about a quarter of Malaysia's 25 million people, while the majority are ethnic Malays.

The footage caused the Chinese government to urge Malaysia to punish those responsible and protect the safety of Chinese visitors. The woman in the video is different from the three women who have come forward to complain.

Police took statements from them for nine hours Tuesday, asking them to re-enact some of the events that allegedly occurred, Nair said. One of them claimed a policewoman slapped her and grabbed her breasts, while another accused a male officer of making lewd remarks. Two of the women, Yu Xuezhen, 35, and Gu Xiuhua, 40, are married to Malaysians, while the other, Wu Xiaohua, 34, is a secretarial student living in Malaysia. All were arrested Nov. 3 before being released without charge four days later.

They plan to sue the police force for wrongful detention and mistreatment, Nair said. The scandal has triggered a national debate about police tactics in Malaysia. Human rights activists have long accused police of corruption, abuse of power and mistreatment of detainees.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has ordered an independent inquiry and pledged there would be no cover-up of the issue. However, Abdullah's pledge has been undermined by several senior government and police officials saying that stripping detainees was standard practice in Malaysia, reports the AP. I.L.

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