Four More Charged In China’s Tainted Milk Scandal

By Tham Choy Lin, Bernama,

Beijing : Four more people were charged in northern China Monday as prosecution began in the country’s tainted-milk scandal that killed six babies and left 294,000 others ill with kidney-related problems.

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The total put on trial so far is 10.

The four charged Monday appeared before the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court in Hebei province, Xinhua News Agency reported, but details of the cases were not available.

Tian Wenhua, the former chairwoman and general manager of Sanlu Group, the company at the centre of the scandal, is due to appear before the same court on Wednesday.

On Friday, six people accused of illegally producing or selling melamine, the industrial chemical that was added to deliberately added to adulterated milk to boost the protein level reading, were also charged in Hebei, the home province of Sanlu, one of the biggest dairy producers in the country.

Two of those charged Friday, a melamine producer and a man who bought the chemical from him, were accused of “endangering public security” which is punishable by death.

Sanlu, partly owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra Group, has filed for bankruptcy with 1.1 billion yuan (RM1 = 2 yuan) of debts last week.

The scandal, which spread further after melamine was also found in liquid milk produced by several other Chinese companies, triggered massive recalls of dairy products and confectionery made with China-sourced milk at home and abroad.

Victims could receive up to 200,000 yuan in the coming weeks from 22 major dairy companies including Sanlu, the English newspaper, China Daily, said Monday based on a business magazine report.

The one-off payout could cost over 13.5 billion yuan, with families of babies hospitalised to receive between 30,000 and 50,000 yuan.

The dairy companies would also set up a special fund to cover medical bills or future health problems.