Ringleader of brutal attack on women jailed for 24 years in China
BEIJING - A court in China has sentenced the leader of a gang linked to a vicious attack on women diners to 24 years in jail.
Chen Jizhi was also fined 320,000 yuan (S$64,190), international media reports said.
His criminal group "acted with impunity to carry out bad deeds, oppress the people and harm the local economy and public order, having a severe impact on society", the court in Langfang, just outside Beijing, said on Friday.
The incident, which took place on Jun. 10, had shocked the country and sparked outrage over violence against women.
Another 27 people were jailed for terms ranging from six months to 11 years for beating the women and gang-related crimes dating back to 2012, including robbery, running a casino and illegal detention.
Video clips posted online in June showed a group of men beating four women at a restaurant in Tangshan, an industrial city 155km east of Beijing, and the men were arrested.
Chen and four others were found guilty of violently assaulting the women, one of whom had reportedly rejected a sexual advance made by Chen.
Video images from security cameras showed a man dragging a woman by her hair out of the front door, where she was attacked. The men were seen repeatedly kicking and punching the woman and her three friends.
The video clips went viral and the incident revived the #MeToo movement against gender inequality that President Xi Jinping's government has repeatedly tried to suppress, The Straits Times said in a report credited to Bloomberg.
Many Chinese women took to social media to post about the times they had been mistreated, such as one who said she was afraid to go out alone at night after suffering harassment on a beach.
Mr Xi's government views the debates as a vehicle for spreading liberal Western values, and women who have spoken up about sexual assault are said to have been repeatedly silenced.
There is only one woman on the ruling Communist Party of China's 25-member Politburo, and she is set to retire from the decision-making body this year.
The Tangshan episode was still reverberating through China on Friday, the Bloomberg report said.
The sentencing of the attackers and others in the gang was the top trending topic on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, attracting more than 920 million views.
"Thank you social media for bringing the crimes of the culprits to light," one person wrote.