A Chinese man has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for his lead role in a brutal attack on women in the city of Tangshan, in a case that has shocked the country and sparked widespread anger over violence against women.
Chen Jizhi, along with four other defendants, were convicted of violently assaulting four women with chairs, bottles, punching and kicking at a barbecue restaurant in June, after one of the women rejected a sexual advance made by Chen, a local court in Hebei. province said Friday.
A fifth defendant was found guilty of threatening one of the victims to call the police.
The court ruled that Chen was the ringleader of a criminal gang that had committed a series of crimes over the past decade. He was found guilty of causing quarrels and causing trouble, robbery, opening casinos, unlawfully detaining others, intentionally injuring and fined 320,000 yuan.
The court also sentenced 27 other defendants to prison terms ranging from six months to 11 years for their involvement in the crimes.
Two of the women suffered “minor second-degree injuries”, while the other two suffered “minor injuries”, according to the court.
The attack came to public attention after heartbreaking surveillance footage surfaced online in early June. In the video, Chen is seen approaching the diners and placing his hand on the back of one of the women. The woman pushes him away, then Chen slaps her and pushes her to the ground.
The other men then join the assault, dragging a woman outside by her hair, hitting her with bottles and chairs, and repeatedly kicking her in the head. A woman trying to help is pushed back and lands heavily on the back of her head on the stairs.
The graphic video sparked a wave of outrage and horror, reigniting a debate about violence against women and gender inequality in China.
But instead of addressing gender-based violence, Chinese authorities and state media have focused on local gang violence, with Tangshan launching a two-week campaign to crack down on organized crime.
As of the end of last month, authorities said they had charged 28 people for the attack. Meanwhile, the Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection said it was investigating 15 officials on suspicion of corruption involving “evil organizations”.
Among them, eight civil servants and police officers were arrested for providing “protection” to the criminal gang.