China travel giant’s daycare staff sentenced in abuse case

By Agence France-Presse

Eight staff of a children’s daycare centre run by Chinese online travel agency Ctrip were sentenced to jail Tuesday for abuse that included rubbing spicy mustard into youngsters’ mouths.

The case emerged last November when disturbing video footage of workers abusing toddlers at the centre went viral, sparking nationwide outrage.

Shanghai’s Changning District Court said in a statement that the defendants received sentences ranging from 12 to 18 months, but with “reprieve” periods.

That typically means the accused may not be required to go directly to jail and may have their eventual sentences reduced or waived with good behaviour in the interim.

Clips had showed young children of Ctrip employees being roughly handled and punished by having the spicy mustard shoved into their mouths or being forced to smell the pungent condiment.

The court’s statement accused the staff of “mustard intimidation” of the children.

After video of the abuse went viral, subsequent clips emerged showing irate parents trying to take revenge by forcing what appeared to be spicy mustard into the mouth of one of the accused female staff members as police sought to hold them back.

Ctrip is China’s biggest online booking site for air, rail and other travel. It bought British flight search app Skyscanner for $1.7 billion in 2016.

Ctrip had outsourced daily operations of the daycare centre to an external provider.

The company last year fired two top executives, Shi Qi, a group vice president, and vice president Feng Weihua, over the affair, according to Chinese media reports that cited an internal company memo.

The company has said the daycare centre has since been shut.

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