For­mer pro­fes­sor re­ceives travel ban

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­

A for­mer Pek­ing Univer­sity eco­nomics pro­fes­sor who is be­ing sued for claim­ing that pro­fes­sors at the univer­sity had sex­u­ally ha­rassed wait­resses work­ing on cam­pus said on Wednes­day that he is be­ing pre­vented from leav­ing the coun­try.

Zou Hengfu, who worked for the univer­sity from 1998 un­til his dis­missal in 2007, wrote on his Sina Weibo mi­cro blog that he had been pre­vented from fly­ing to the United States for a fam­ily re­union on Wednes­day morn­ing.

He said Bei­jing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port had stopped him fly­ing on the or­der of the Haid­ian Dis­trict Peo­ple’s Court in Bei­jing, which is deal­ing with the law­suit.

In 2012, Zou al­leged that wait­resses at the Meng­taoyuan Restau­rant on the univer­sity cam­pus had suf­fered ha­rass­ment from col­lege em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing deans and di­rec­tors. The al­le­ga­tions gained pub­lic at­ten­tion and a strong re­ac­tion from the univer­sity, which later filed a law­suit against Zou, who now works for the World Bank, ac­cus­ing him of defama­tion.

“I’ve al­ready ac­knowl­edged the law­suit, so I don’t know why the court still pre­vented me from leav­ing to cel­e­brate Christ­mas with my fam­ily,” Zou said on his mi­cro blog.

“I ne­go­ti­ated with the court, and my wife even wrote a let­ter to the judges, hop­ing they would let me leave based on eth­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, but there was no re­sponse,” he wrote.

On Wednes­day evening, the court replied to Zou’s on­line state­ments via its of­fi­cial web­site, say­ing it is­sued the travel ban on Dec 15. It said it had replied to Zou’s travel re­quest, send­ing a writ­ten re­sponse to his lawyer, Guo Kewei, on Tues­day.

It had re­jected Zou’s ap­pli­ca­tion to leave the coun­try, it ex­plained, be­cause it wished to en­sure the court case pro­ceeded smoothly, and fur­ther claimed that Zou has been lax in com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­gard­ing the pend­ing case.

The court said that it has been un­able to make proper con­tact with Zou in many ways re­gard­ing the case since it was filed in Septem­ber 2012.

In the past year, the court claims, it has tried to send le­gal ma­te­ri­als to Zou by mail, tele­phone and even a for­eign postal de­liv­ery, but it had not re­ceived any re­sponse from him as of July 29 this year.

In re­sponse to a re­quest from the univer­sity, the court de­cided to place a for­eign travel ban on the for­mer pro­fes­sor.

Jiang Langlang, spokesman for the univer­sity, said the in­sti­tu­tion in­tends to pro­ceed with the law­suit against its for­mer em­ployee.

But Zhao Hong­mei, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law, said the court’s travel ban was ex­ces­sive, and that leg­is­la­tors should clar­ify what sorts of peo­ple should be sub­jected to such mea­sures.

“Not all peo­ple, I think, should be pre­vented from trav­el­ing if they have a law­suit against them, or else it will in­volve too many peo­ple,” she said.

“If a de­fen­dant can pro­vide a guar­an­tee for the plain­tiff, his or her exit ap­pli­ca­tion should be al­lowed.”

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