iPhone worker's suicide over missing prototype

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An employee at a Chinese factory that makes Apple iPhones killed himself after he was allegedly beaten over a missing prototype.

The US parent company responded yesterday by saying that its suppliers were required to treat workers with dignity and respect.

The dead worker, Sun Danyong, 25, worked in product communications at Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese company that makes many Apple products at a massive factory in the city of Shenzhen. There is tremendous pressure on employees dealing with Apple's new products to maintain a high level of secrecy about the gadgets. Mr Sun was responsible for sending iPhone prototypes to Apple.

On 13 July he reported that he was missing one of the 16 fourth-generation units in his possession, the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper reported. His friends said company security guards searched his apartment, detained him and beat him.

Early on 16 July, Mr Sun jumped from the 12th floor of his apartment building.

Jill Tan, a spokeswoman for Apple in Hong Kong, said: "We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee. We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."

A security official, Gu Qinming, was quoted as saying he never hit Mr Sun. Mr Gu reportedly said that after three security personnel searched Mr Sun's apartment and did not find the phone, the employee was ordered to go to Mr Gu's office on 15 July.

"I got a bit agitated. I pointed my finger at him and said he was trying to shift the blame," Mr Gu was quoted as saying. "I was a little angry and I pulled his right shoulder once to get him to tell me what happened. It [the beating] couldn't have happened."