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UPDATE 1-Chinese prosecutors drop case against former Alibaba employee accused of sexual assault

(Adds details on Chinese law)

SHANGHAI, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Chinese prosecutors have dropped a case against a former Alibaba Group Holding Ltd employee accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague, saying they had determined he had committed forcible indecency but not a crime.

The employee, identified by his surname Wang, was detained by police last month after a female Alibaba employee posted an 11-page account here on Alibaba's intranet saying a manager and a client sexually assaulted her during a business trip to eastern China's Jinan city.

She said superiors and human resources did not take her report seriously, triggering a fierce public backlash against the e-commerce giant, which later fired Wang and suspended other executives.

Prosecutors, however, have approved the arrest of the client who has been identified by his surname Zhang.

Jinan police have accused both men of committing acts of forcible indecency but have not provided details of the acts. The female employee in her account said she was mostly unconscious during the incident and woke up with her clothes removed.

Reuters was unable to reach Wang or Zhang for comment. Alibaba said in response to the decision by prosecutors that it has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. Jinan Hualian Supermarket, Zhang’s former employer, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Chinese law says those using violence or coercion to act indecently against others can be sentenced to as much as five years in prison but does not define an indecent act.

Since first surfacing in August, the female Alibaba employee’s allegations have triggered much online discussion about sexual harassment in China as well as the country’s culture of heavy drinking during business meetings.

Alibaba dismissed 10 employees for sharing screen shots of the female colleague’s account of sexual assault allegations, Bloomberg News reported last month, citing people familiar with the matter. (Reporting by Emily Chow, Josh Horwitz and Wang Jing; Editing by Brenda Goh and Edwina Gibbs)

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