Six stand trial in China’s milk powder scandal

December 26th, 2008 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Shijiazhuang (China), Dec 26 (Xinhua) Six people involved in China’s melamine-tainted baby food scandal went on trial Friday in four courts in the northern province of Hebei.Prosecutors charged Zhang Yujun and Zhang Yanzhang, who appeared at the Shijiazhuang intermediate people’s court, with compromising public security. The two Zhangs are not related.

The court was told that Zhang Yujun, a native of Quzhou county of Hebei, had concocted the so-called “protein powder” by mixing industrial chemical melamine with malt starch.

The cattle farmer reportedly produced 775.6 tonnes of “protein powder” that contained melamine from October 2007 through August 2008 and sold more than 600 tonnes with a total value of 6.83 million yuan ($998,000), the court heard.

Zhang Yanzhang, a native from the same county as Zhang Yujun, bought the protein powder from the latter and resold 230 tonnes.

The “protein powder” was sold to milk collectors in Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Xingtai and Zhangjiakou cities in Hebei. Some collectors added it to raw milk and sold it to Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group, the country’s major dairy at the centre of the tainted milk scandal.

Sanlu products were found to contain melamine, which was being used to increase the apparent protein content in milk. The use of the industrial chemical is restricted in food.

Both Zhangs expressed remorse during the six-hour hearing. Zhang Yujun asked for leniency and the chance to correct his errors and make a fresh start.

Four others also went on trial in three courts in Wuji, Xingtang and Zhaoxian counties Friday.

At least six babies died due to urinary complications as a result of consuming the tainted milk while 294,000 babies, who were fed on the adulterated milk, were admitted to hospitals with kidney stones and urinary problems, according to the health ministry.

Tian Wenhua, Sanlu’s former board chairwoman and general manager, will go on trial next Wednesday in the Shijiazhuang intermediate people’s court.

Sanlu had stopped production from Sep 12. A bankruptcy petition for the dairy giant has been filed as it faced 1.1 billion yuan of debt, the Shijiazhuang city government said Thursday.

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