Saturday, January 24, 2009

China: Death for two in tainted milk case - When do we see such headlines in India?

A Chinese court has handed down death sentences to two men implicated in a tainted-milk scandal that killed at least six infants and sickened hundreds of thousands of others.

The Intermediate People's Court in Shijiazhuang issued the first verdicts in a nationwide scandal surrounding milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Two men, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping, were sentenced to death. Zhang ran a workshop that allegedly was China's largest source of melamine used in the tainted dairy products. Geng was convicted of producing and selling toxic foodstuffs.

The court sentenced Tian Wenhua, the former head of the dairy company at the center of the scandal, to life in prison and fined her nearly $4 million. She was found guilty of making and selling fake or substandard products.

Her company, the now-bankrupt Sanlu Group, was fined more than $7 million. Six other former Sanlu executives were sentenced to jail, for five to 15 years.

The court had announced it would also sentence 21 defendants implicated in the scandal later.

Some parents are disappointed that no Chinese officials have had to face formal charges.

The scandal involving tainted milk broke in September, although Sanlu authorities knew of problems with their company's products months earlier.

Middlemen who sold milk to dairy companies had watered down the raw milk and then mixed it with melamine, which gives an artificially high reading for protein.

Melamine is normally used to make plastics and fertilizer. If ingested in large amounts, it can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. The Ministry of Health said it was likely the tainted milk scandal with Sanlu Group at its centre killed at least six babies. Another 2,96,000 infants suffered kidney stone and urinary problems.

When would we see such quick judgments against corruption happening in India?

Cross posted from Indian Medicos