Four executives of the Sanlu Group, the major dairy at the center of China's
tainted milk scandal, went on trial today at a court in Shijiazhuang, capital of
northern Hebei Province.
The Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court accused Tian Wenhua, Sanlu's
former board chairwoman and general manager and three other executives of
producing and selling fake or sub-standard products.
The court opened at 8 am The three other executives are former deputy general
managers Wang Yuliang and Hang Zhiqi, and Wu Jusheng, a former executive in
charge of the firm's milk division.
Wang was in a wheelchair after losing the use of his legs in a suicide
attempt, according to court sources.
The four defendants were arrested on Sept. 26.
Tian told the court that she learned about the tainted milk complaints from
consumers in mid-May, and then the company set up a working team led by her to
handle the case.
Sanlu Group submitted a written report about the problematic milk powder to
the Shijiazhuang city government on August 2, she said.
If convicted of producing and selling fake or substandard products,
defendants can be imprisoned for terms up to life.
Prior to the trial of these four, 17 people have gone on trial on charges of
producing, adding melamine-laced "protein powder" to milk or selling the tainted
milk to Sanlu or other dairies.
The Ministry of Health has said it was likely the contamination killed at
least six babies. Another 294,000 infants suffered from urinary problems such as
Sanlu Group stopped production on Sept. 12. A bankruptcy petition for Sanlu
has been filed in the face of an 1.1 billion yuan debt.