Hangzhou police have released from custody three US college students participating in an overseas basketball competition after they were charged with shoplifting in the western Chinese city, but have denied them permission to return to their home country until after questioning.
The three University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) college basketball players are charged with shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in the Chinese city and must remain in the country until officials are satisfied that justice has been served.
The three freshmen college students: Cody Riley, Jalen Hill and LiAngelo Ball, will remain in Hangzhou for at least a week, and possibly longer, according to ESPN, cooling their heels in a $300-a-night luxury hotel.
According to Reuters, the three students were arrested on November 7 and released the next day, but were told to stay put pending the results of the investigation.
The young men, confined to their hotel in Hangzhou, were not permitted to travel with their team to Shanghai for a season-opener match against Georgia Tech, in which UCLA nonetheless won.
The younger brother of star National Basketball Association (NBA) rookie Lonzo Ball currently with the Los Angeles Lakers, LiAngelo Ball, 18, refused to comment when he was contacted by telephone in his hotel room on November 8.
“I ain’t got nothing to say,” said university student Ball, adding, “They don’t want us to talk,” cited by the Los Angeles Times.
The consequences of a theft conviction in China can result in simple probation, but can also become as extreme as several years in a Chinese prison. Local jurisprudence differs radically from that which US citizens are familiar, particularly as pressing formal charges against a suspect is considered to be a likely conviction.
Remarking on the shoplifting arrests and investigation, spokeswoman Hua Chunying of the Chinese Foreign Ministry asserted that, “China handles the affair according to law, and will guarantee the legitimate rights of the parties involved according to the law,” cited by Latimes.com.