A Chinese businessman is facing two decades in prison for beating two mine workers that he supervised in western Rwanda.
Sun Shujun was captured on a viral video striking a Black man tied to a pole while other men watched. Shujun told the court he was “frustrated and fed up of” the men “constantly stealing minerals.”
A Rwandan judge sentenced Shujun to 20 years on April 19 and Rwandan production manager Renzaho Alexis will spend 12 years in prison for his role as Shunjun’s accomplice.
“It is clear that [Shujun] tortured the victims and issued corporal punishment with malicious intent, and this is a grave crime,” Judge Jacques Kanyarukiga said during the ruling. Kanyarukiga reiterated the importance of Chinese citizens local laws.
Shujun, 43, was accused of assaulting four workers at the cassiterite mine that he managed. He argued that he should not be prosecuted because he compensated Azalias Niyomukiza and Gratien Ngendahimana one million Rwandan francs or nearly $1,000 and signed a “reconciliation letter.”
Prosecutors argued that the victims accepted the money “because they were traumatized and afraid of him.”
The man in the video was lying on the ground when Shujun swung the rope into his head twice and then his shoulder. One of the onlookers pushed the victim upright before Shujun struck him again in the head. Photos of two men tied to a pole near Rutsiro district of Western Province, were also circulated on social media.
The mining company Ali Group Holdings Limited is a product of ongoing business relations between China and Rwanda, where there are reportedly over 1,000 Chinese nationals. Cassiterite is a mineral that is used to create tin. Rutongo reportedly has one of the biggest cassiterite deposits in Africa.
The Chinese Embassy in Rwanda said it has “taken note” of the ruling and will continue to follow the case.
“The Embassy always asks Chinese citizens in Rwanda to abide by local laws and regulations,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the Embassy calls for the case to be handled appropriately in a rational, fair and just manner, and requests the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens to be properly protected.”