A man assaults a woman at a restaurant in the northeastern city of Tangshan, China, June 10, 2022, in this screen grab taken from surveillance footage obtained by REUTERS on June 12, 2022. Video Obtained By Reuters/via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Viral video of women being attacked sparks fury in China
03:23 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A Chinese man has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for his leading role in a brutal attack on female diners in the city of Tangshan, in a case that shocked the country and sparked widespread anger over violence against women.

Chen Jizhi, along with four other defendants, were found guilty of violently assaulting four women with chairs, bottles, punches and kicks at a barbecue restaurant in June, after one of the woman 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 against calling 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 convicted on charges including picking quarrels and provoking trouble, robbery, opening casinos, illegal detention of others, intentional injury, 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 “second-degree minor injuries,” while the other two had “slight injuries,” according to the court.

The attack drew public attention after harrowing surveillance footage surfaced online in early June. In the video, Chen is seen approaching the female 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 one woman outdoors by her hair, hitting her with bottles and chairs and repeatedly kicking her in the head. A woman who tries to help her is pushed away and lands heavily on the back of her head on the stairs.

The graphic video set off 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 shifted the focus to local gang violence, with Tangshan launching a two-week campaign to crack down on organized crime.

Late last month, authorities said they had charged 28 people over the attack. Meanwhile, the Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection said it was investigating 15 officials for suspected corruption that involved “evil organizations.”

Among them, eight police officials and officers were detained for providing “protection” for the criminal gang.