Taipei, Taiwan– A court in northern China on Friday sentenced a man to 24 years in prison for his role in a brutal attack on four women, as well as other crimes including theft and opening an illegal gambling network. .
The Guangyang District People’s Court in the northern province of Hebei said in a statement that the man, Chen Jizhi, was the leader of a criminal gang and had been involved in criminal activities for years.
The court also sentenced 27 other people. The charges against them include opening casinos, robbery, aiding cybercrime activities, seeking quarrels and causing trouble and the sentences range from 6 months to 11 years.
Authorities opened the investigation into Chen after a video emerged in early June in which he and other men began beating four women at a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan, a city in Hebei. The men spared no force, using glass bottles and their fists to attack the women and even throwing a chair.
Chen had started the assault on a woman after she rejected his advances and pushed his hand away. He then put his hands on her and pulled her out of her chair. He was soon joined by members of his crew as the woman’s friends tried to stop his attack. The incident was caught on surveillance cameras in the restaurant.
The graphic videos sparked public anger and despair as many women raised concerns for their personal safety.
He also recalled the public’s sense of desperation over violence against women that went unpunished, such as a case earlier in the year when a video circulated of a woman chained to a wall in a country house. Authorities later discovered in an investigation that the woman had been trafficked and sold as a wife.
Initially, the police arrested nine people, seven men and two women, for the attack on the four women. Two of the women had to be hospitalized for their injuries.
The public assault investigation morphed into a larger investigation into criminal activity and corruption. Prosecutors later said they were charging 27 other people for crimes uncovered during the investigation.
In August, Communist Party authorities at the Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection said they were investigating 15 officials for corruption involving “evil organizations,” including those associated with the attackers.
The 15 people, including the director of the Tangshan Public Security Bureau and officers from several police stations, are suspected of abuse of power, corruption and other work-related crimes. Eight of them were arrested during the investigation.