UCLA basketball players, including Lonzo Ball’s brother, arrested in China for shoplifting may be confined to hotel for months
The players were questioned about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store and released on bail on Wednesday
The three UCLA men’s basketball players arrested in China for allegedly shoplifting a day before US President Donald Trump’s visit cannot leave their hotel until the end of the legal process, which could last months, ESPN reported on Wednesday.
Police are requiring the University of California, Los Angeles, players to remain at their luxury Hangzhou hotel until the legal process is done, which could last days, weeks or even months, ESPN reported, citing unnamed sources.
The three students, freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, were arrested on Tuesday, according to several media reports. Ball is the younger brother of National Basketball Association rookie Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The US State Department and UCLA Athletics officials declined to address how long legal proceedings might take.
A US State Department official said the department was aware of reports of three American citizens arrested in China and stood ready to provide assistance but had no further comment due to privacy considerations.
Chinese authorities have up to 37 days before deciding whether to obtain official approval for an arrest, said Margaret K. Lewis, a Seton Hall professor of law specialising in the Chinese legal system.
“If formal charges are brought against the basketball players … the conviction rate in China is over 99 per cent,” Lewis said. “What’s important in this early stage is what charges are brought because once they are brought it becomes an issue of what the sentence will be, not whether they will be found guilty or not.”
The Chinese government reported the incident to US officials, Chinese foreign ministry officials previously said.
The players were questioned about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store and released on bail on Wednesday, ESPN reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping led Trump on a private tour of the Forbidden City to kick off his visit on Wednesday.
Reached by telephone at his hotel on Wednesday, Ball declined to comment. In a video posted Wednesday on Twitter by ESPN writer Arash Markazi, LaVar Ball said his son LiAngelo would be fine.
The players will not play in Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech, UCLA Athletics spokeswoman Shana Wilson said.
The UCLA team arrived in China on Sunday and then travelled to Hangzhou, about three hours by bus from Shanghai, to visit the campus of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, sponsor of the game in China.
Additional reporting by Associated Press