Lu Ke, the Chinese national accused of exploiting Malawian children to make racist videos, has been charged with human trafficking and denied bail, according to reports.
Lu Ke, 26, was handed over by Zambia to Malawi on Saturday after he fled the latter following the revelation of his alleged activities. Zambian authorities previously arrested and fined him for illegal entry and illegal stay.
A BBC Africa Eye documentary exposed Lu Ke’s alleged scheme, in which children were paid half a dollar to star in racist videos that were then sold on Chinese social media. Known to the children he allegedly abused as Susu, Lu Ke allegedly made up to 380 videos every day and sold each of them for up to $70.
In one of the videos, children in matching shirts are seen chanting phrases such as “I am a Black monster” and “My IQ is low” in Chinese. One child alleged that Lu Ke would beat them if they disobeyed his orders.
Lu Ke was formally charged with five counts of human trafficking in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe on Monday. He appeared in court and applied for bail without a lawyer.
He informed the court that he had only had one meal since his arrest, and he also pointed out that he had no relatives to bring him food.
However, Senior Resident Magistrate James Mankhwazi refused to grant him bail. Mankhwazi said prosecutors succeeded in demonstrating that he is a flight risk, has no definitive place of stay and could interfere with juvenile witnesses.
One prosecutor also argued against his release to protect him from public outrage. Protesters previously took to the streets to condemn his scheme and call for justice.
With the no-bail order, Lu Ke will remain at Maula Prison for the next 15 days as investigations continue. He is expected to receive additional charges.
While Lu Ke appeared in court without a lawyer, he reportedly procured the services of one as a matter of exercising his constitutional rights. He will take a plea on Aug. 4.
The Chinese Embassy in Malawi previously stated that they will “closely work with the Malawi side and see to it that this unfortunate issue be properly addressed.” As of Tuesday, the consulate has not made a public statement regarding developments in the case.