UPDATE: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the unnamed woman as one of the top government officials in charge of China's pavilion at the Expo. In fact, she is the employee of a private company contracted to work at the Chinese pavilion. We apologize for the incorrect identification.
A Chinese woman working at Expo Milan 2015 has been arrested for biting an Italian police officer during a document check related to an anti-counterfeiting raid, her lawyer and authorities said.
Italy's tax police, the Guardia di Finanza, said the incident happened as they raided a warehouse on the northwestern outskirts of Milan over information that forged goods bearing the universal exhibition's logo were stored there, a local newspaper reported.
The building turned out to be part of a compound used as accommodation and offices by part of the Chinese delegation to the six-month nutrition-themed world fair, taking place nearby.
Police demanded that those found at the premises provide identification documents and an altercation ensued, fuelled by a language barrier, the lawyer of the alleged attacker said.
"It was a big misunderstanding," defence attorney Benedetto Maria Bonomo told IBTimes UK.
A spokesperson for China Pavillions - Expo 2015 also dismissed the incident as having been created by a "misunderstanding over language".
Bonomo said the raid was carried out by plain-clothed officers, adding to the confusion.
That was initially confirmed by police but they later backtracked, saying all officers involved were wearing uniforms, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
The lawyer said the officers' failure to properly identify themselves and uncouth behaviour triggered a standoffish reaction from the Chinese delegates, who believed they were being conned out of their IDs.
However, he added that his client reacted excessively as she sank her teeth into an officer's hand.
"She was trying to get back her passport. The policeman wouldn't immediately hand it back and she bit him," Bonomo said. "She flew into a rage".
The 39-year-old woman, who has not been named, is an employee of a private company contracted by China's pavilion at the Expo. "She has never had a problem and has no criminal record," Bonomo said.
She was arrested alongside another member of the Chinese pavilion staff, a 25-year-old man, who allegedly refused to hand his documents to police.
The woman is facing up to five years in jail on for resisting an officer with violence, while the male has been charged with refusing to provide identification, which carries a maximum sentence of three months.
They have both been released after appearing before a judge and have been allowed to continue work at the exhibition and travel pending trial.
Upon leaving court the woman was treated for minor injuries, mainly arm bruises, suffered during arrest, Bonomo said.
No counterfeit goods were seized during the raid, Bonomo said. Police were not immediately available for a comment.