Foxconn hands iPhone suicide case to Chinese police

Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, has asked Chinese police to investigate a case in which an employee reportedly committed suicide after being pressured over the loss of an iPhone prototype.

Sun Danyong, 25, was tasked with sending 16 fourth-generation iPhone prototypes to Apple this month, but Apple only received 15 when the package arrived, according to Chinese media. Sun reportedly leaped from his apartment window last week, though police are investigating whether he may have been murdered, the Shanghai Daily said.

Foxconn, a Taiwanese company that has manufactured Apple iPods and iPhones for years, allegedly pressured Sun to hand over the missing phone, the Chinese-language Southern Metropolis Daily said, and he was reportedly roughed up by a company security official.

In a statement, Foxconn said it has suspended the security official named in the reports and handed the case to police for investigation. The statement also said Sun's death revealed management shortcomings at Foxconn and that the company would work to provide better psychological support to employees.

A company representative declined to discuss specifics of the case, saying Foxconn cannot divulge information relating to its customers.

Allegations of trouble with Foxconn workers in China have bitten Apple before. The U.S. company and its relationship with Foxconn was brought to light three years ago when a British newspaper wrote about allegedly poor pay and long hours for iPod assembly line workers. Apple conducted its own review of the facility but found few violations of its supplier code of conduct.

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," Apple said in a statement. "We require that our suppliers treat all workers with dignity and respect."

Foxconn is the trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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