Tangshan attack: China jails man for 24 years after assault of 4 women
- Sentencing of Chen Jizhi and fellow gang members comes more than three months after the vicious beatings at a barbecue restaurant
- Attack that shocked the nation prompted a debate about justice and a national crackdown on violent crime
The Guangyang District People’s Court in Langfang, Hebei province, said on Friday morning that the man, Chen Jizhi, 41, was a ringleader of a criminal gang and had conducted criminal activities since 2012. He was also fined 320,000 yuan (US$45,000).
Twenty-seven other people, some of whom also took part in the assault, were also sentenced to between six months and 11 years behind bars for a series of crimes, including operating casinos, robbery, assisting in cybercrimes, picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Nineteen of them were fined 3,000 to 135,000 yuan.
Early on the morning of June 10, Chen and eight other defendants had been dining at a barbecue restaurant, when Chen began harassing a woman. After she rejected his advances, Chen began beating her.
The woman’s companions tried to come to her rescue, but were assaulted by Chen’s accomplices, who stormed into the restaurant, struck the victims on the head, and then dragged them outside and continued the beatings. They had used chairs and wine bottles to hit the women and continued with punches and kicks inside the restaurant, outside the premises, the court said.
Police were called, but the suspects had fled by the time they arrived.
Of the four victims, two had minor injuries, and the other two had slight injuries, the court said.
Chen and six other defendants were liable for the medical expenses, lost wages and other losses incurred by the four victims.
Qu Zhenhong, a Beijing-based criminal defence lawyer, said the penalty was quite severe, and the particular incident was unique.
“We do not know if the allegations of robbery and wilful injury are limited to the barbecue restaurant case, or if they apply to other incidents as well. They intentionally caused second-degree minor injuries, for which the term is usually less than three years,” she said.
Qu said that three months was a fairly short time for the authorities to handle the case, and might be considered as being heavy-handed and hurried in an effort to appease the public.
“With 28 defendants altogether, a three-day trial, there is not enough time for cross-examination or questioning. With so many charges, it may take hundreds of pages to issue a verdict, which was handed down one week after the trial – also fairly quick,” she said.
“I don’t believe it will contribute to or have an impact on the conclusion of other violent cases until other incidents similarly cause comparable public indignation.”
The 28 defendants stood trial earlier in September. Deputies of the National People’s Congress, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, relatives of some of the defendants and members of the public attended the hearing, according to the court’s statement.
Additional reporting by Guo Rui