Death penalty for two in milk scandal

A Chinese court has condemned two men to death and imposed a life term in prison on a former dairy boss in the first sentencing of those involved in China’s contaminated milk scandal, the Associated Press reported. At least six babies died and nearly 300,000 became ill last year after the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products.


Tian Wenhua, the former general manager of Sanlu Group — the dairy at the centre of the food-safety scandal — was ordered jailed for life by the Intermediate People’s Court in Shijiazhuang. The highest-ranking official charged in the scandal, Tian pleaded guilty to charges of producing and selling fake or substandard products.


Sentenced to death were Zhang Yujun, for running a workshop that allegedly was China’s largest source of melamine, and Geng Jinping, for producing and selling toxic food. A total of 21 defendants were being sentenced on Thursday in connection with the case. Several former Sanlu executives were given five- to 15-year prison sentences.


Investigations showed that middlemen who sold milk to dairy companies were watering down raw milk, then mixing in nitrogen-rich melamine to fool quality tests for protein content. Melamine — normally used to make plastics and fertiliser — can cause kidney stones and kidney failure when ingested in large amounts.


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