Death penalty in melamine scandal

22-01-2009 | |

Two men have been given the death penalty for their involvement in China’s contaminated milk scandal. The former boss of the Sanlu dairy at the centre of the scandal was given life imprisonment. They are among 21 sentences being handed down by the court in northern China, where Sanlu is based.

One of the most eagerly-awaited sentences was that of Tian Wenhua, who was
chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, the largest producer of baby milk powder. She had
already pleaded guilty to charges of producing and selling fake or substandard
produce, and was given a life sentence by the Intermediate People’s Court in

Earlier the court sentenced Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping
to death. Zhang Yujun was accused of running an illegal workshop in Shandong
province in eastern China, producing 600 tonnes of the fake protein powder – the
largest source of melamine in the country. He was sentenced along with Zhang
Yanzhang – accused of selling on Zhang Yujun’s protein powder – who was given a
life sentence. Milk producer, Geng Jinping had been convicted of producing and
selling toxic food to dairy companies.

The scandal, in which melamine was
added to raw milk to make it appear higher in protein, led to the deaths of six
babies and made some 300,000 ill. See below the timeline of the

10 Sept: 14 babies reported ill in Gansu province
15 Sept:
Beijing confirms first deaths from the contamination
22 Sept: Toll of ill
babies rises to tens of thousands – and eventually will rise to almost
23 Sept: Other countries start to test Chinese dairy products or
remove them from shops
31 Oct: Chinese media suggest melamine is routinely
added to animal feed
24 Dec: The main dairy firm involved, Sanlu, is declared
31 Dec: Four senior Sanlu executives go on trial
2 Jan: Firms
involved ask for forgiveness in a mass New Year text message
22 Jan: A court
in China begins handing down sentences

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