Criminal Justice

Two Chinese Dairy Producers Get Death Penalty for Selling Tainted Milk

Two Chinese milk producers have received death sentences for selling dairy products laced with melamine, a toxic compound that led to the deaths of at least six children.

Dairy middleman Zhang Yujun and dairy producer Geng Jinpin were sentenced to death by China’s Intermediate People’s Court, the New York Times reports. A former dairy executive received a suspended death sentence and three other men were sentenced to life in prison, the story says.

One defendant who received a life sentence, Tian Wenhua, was the highest-ranking dairy executive to go to trial. The former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, Tian had pleaded guilty in December to wrongdoing in the case. Reuters calls Tian “the woman most widely blamed for the tragedy.”

On Tuesday, Chinese lawyers filed a rare class-action product liability case on behalf of families whose children died or became ill after drinking the tainted milk, the Times story says. The suit filed in the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing seeks $5.2 million in damages from 22 dairy companies.

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