Chinese authorities have charged 28 people and detained eight police officials following a brutal assault on a group of women earlier this summer that shocked the country and provoked widespread anger.
The attack at a barbecue restaurant in the early hours of June 10 in the northeastern city of Tangshan saw a woman and her three friends repeatedly kicked and punched by a group of men after she rejected one of their advances.
Surveillance footage of the attack – showing the woman dragged by her hair, hit with bottles and chairs and repeatedly kicked in the head – caused an outcry in China, with many demanding punishment for the attackers and accountability from the police, who were accused of failing to respond in time.
On Monday, the People’s Procuratorate of Hebei province, where Tangshan is located, said in a statement that 28 people had been prosecuted since the case was filed, including the seven men suspected of being involved in the assault.
Prosecutors accused the 28 of committing a series of crimes since 2012, including illegal detention of others, intentional injury, opening casinos and robbery.
Two of the women suffered “second-degree minor injuries” and were discharged from hospital on July 1, while the other two had “slight injuries,” according to the prosecutors.
Meanwhile, eight police officials and officers have been detained for suspected corruption and providing “protection” for the gang, the Hebei Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection and Supervision said in a statement Monday.
They were accused of abuse of power, bending the law for personal gain and bribery, according to the statement.
Authorities also tried to dispel long-running rumors swirling around the case, with the Hebei procuratorate saying claims that some of the women were sexually assaulted or hit by vehicles in an alley adjacent to the restaurant were “false information.”
After the attack, the police said in a terse statement that two of the women had been sent to hospital and were in stable condition, while the other two sustained minor injuries.
In the following days, rumors that some of the victims were in far worse condition than authorities claimed spread persistently online, despite repeated denials from the police and hospital officials.
Some alleged the surveillance video captured only part of the attack, and the violence continued off camera in a nearby alleyway – claims that CNN cannot independently verify. The persistent speculation was fueled by a black hole of information surrounding the victims. None of them – or their friends and family – had spoken out since the attack.
On Monday, state broadcaster CCTV released footage from what it said was an interview with one of the victims, who was asked to explain what happened in the alley.
“We were beaten by several men. After the beating, they told us not to call the police or to ask anyone for help, or they would kill us. They then ran away,” said the woman, whose voice was altered and identity disguised. She also denied she was run over by vehicles.
In the CCTV report, a police officer involved in the case also denied the rumors, adding that the suspects had stayed in the alleyway for about one minute and 41 seconds.