Death Sentences for Chinese Milk Adulterators
While I’m on the subject of China, some harsh sentences have come down on people convicted of adulterating milk with melamine in China:
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.
Harsh as they are these sentences are largely window dressing. A truck driver and a fairly low level manager have received death sentences. A few company executives have received stiff fines and prison sentences. Nobody believes that Sanlu was the only company involved in the practice and no officials have been subject to any penalties whatever.
This move is largely pour encourager les autres and I suspect we’ll see more scandals of this sort in China. The incentives are substantial and the likelihood of apprehension is low. Dealing with the problem would require reforms in Chinese government, the Chinese economy, and civil law that are probably beyond their ability to enact at this point.