The family of a terrified Chinese factory worker who jumped to his death after being interrogated over a missing iPhone prototype has been paid US$44,000 (NZ$67,000), while the factory in which he worked continues to smear his reputation.
Sun Danyong, 25, committed suicide this month after one of the 16 prototype iPhones he ordered from the Foxconn factory assembly line went missing.
Family and friends say Sun told them he was beaten and humiliated by his superiors while being interrogated over the missing phone, claims that Foxconn has denied.
The incident has whipped up controversy in China and abroad and has helped shine a light on questionable working conditions in Chinese factories.
It has also highlighted the pressure Apple puts on staff and supply chain workers to keep its upcoming products secret.
In an interview with The New York Times, Sun's brother, Sun Danxiong, 28, said Foxconn paid his family US$44,000 compensation and gave Sun's girlfriend a free Apple laptop computer.
The paper also spoke to Foxconn's general manager of China operations, James Lee, who defended the company's working conditions and continued to attack Sun's credibility.
''Several times he had some products missing, then he got them back. We don't know who took the product, but it was at his stop,'' Lee said.
Foxconn has suspended one of its security staff members over the incident pending a police investigation.
The man, Gu Qinming, told Chinese media last week that he did not beat Sun and only grabbed his right shoulder after becoming ''a little angry''.
Gu's personal details were published on the internet by angry Chinese citizens, and he now claims he is unable to return to his home.
It has also been revealed that, just after being interrogated, Sun, a shy graduate who had finished university only a year earlier, sent a distressed SMS to his girlfriend, who later published the message online.
The message read: ''Dear, I'm sorry. Go back home tomorrow. I ran into some problems. Don't tell my family. Don't contact me. I'm begging you for the first time. Please do it! I'm sorry.''
Sun jumped to his death from the 12th floor of an apartment building hours later.
Foxconn and Apple have both expressed their sadness at Sun's death, but neither has released any further details about the investigation into it. Local police have so far refused to comment.
In a press release issued after Sun's death, China Labor Watch lambasted Foxconn's ''inhumane and militant management system, which lacks fundamental respect for workers' rights''.
CLW published a detailed investigation into working conditions at Foxconn last year but claims the company failed to address the issues it raised.
They include ''serious labour violations including excessive working hours, unpaid wages for up to 30 minutes of work each day, compulsory overtime and extremely poor dormitory conditions''.
The organisation alleges Sun's death was not the first suicide at a Foxconn factory and that other workers have reported being beaten with ''iron bars and whips''.
It also claims that only workers producing Apple products are given stools, and the rest must stand.
CLW said workers were housed in ''converted workshops with hundreds of workers per room'', which is similar to conditions that Britain's Daily Mail found when it published photographs and details of the harsh working conditions at Foxconn's iPod factories in 2006.
Foxconn has still not recovered the missing iPhone, but Sun's brother is confident Sun had nothing to do with it.
Biographies of Sun published in Chinese media have said he grew up in an isolated mountain village in the south-western province of Yunnan and his family was so poor that he would erase the old pencil notes from his school books and reuse them.
He had only just graduated with a business degree from one of China's best schools, the Harbin Institute of Technology.
When he started work at Foxconn he told his parents ''from now on you don't have to work so hard, you should enjoy a little'', China's Southern Metropolis Daily reported .
''He was honest and modest. He would never steal anything,'' Sun's brother told The New York Times.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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