Friday, January 9, 2009

Arrests and Convictions in Melamine Contamination

Who are the individuals that have been arrested in the melamine poisoning case? Previously the number of arrests in the case had been reported at sixty. Xinhau now states that 1173 individuals have been arrested and 1,244 government officials have been investigated on corruption charges.

China Death Sentences May Protect Exports After Milk Scandal (1) Zhang Yujun, a cattle farmer in eastern China, made almost $1 million selling a toxic concoction that milk buyers used to doctor dairy products and boost profits, killing six infants. Now Zhang will pay with his life. One middleman, (2) Geng Jinping, was convicted of adding Zhang’s powder to watered-down milk, according to state-run China Daily. Geng was sentenced to death by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court for adding 434 kilograms (957 pounds) of the mixture to about 900 tons of fresh milk. Former Sanlu Chairwoman (3) Tian Wenhua was sentenced to life in prison and fined more than 20 million yuan for continuing to sell tainted products after she found out about the contamination, China Daily reported. Sanlu shut down production in September and filed for bankruptcy. Another defendant, (4) Gao Junjie, received a death sentence, suspended for two years, for making more than 70 tons of melamine-laced powder with his wife. That sentence typically is commuted to life in prison. (Bloomberg, 01/29/2009)

Verdicts due 'soon' in trial of Chinese melamine milk suspects A Chinese court is to announce "soon" its verdict in the case of 21 suspects charged over last year's melamine-tainted milk scandal that left at least six children dead, the Xinhua news agency said on Sunday. "The court will announce the verdicts soon," Zhang told the ongoing annual session of the Hebei Provincial People's Congress. A total of 1,173 suspects in the Hebei Province have been arrested in connection with the case and 1,244 government officials have been investigated on corruption charges, according to Xinhua. (Russian News & Information Agency, 01/11/2009)

China said Friday it had arrested a total of 60 people in the tainted milk scandal that led to the deaths of at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000 others. Police had arrested them for "producing or selling toxic and harmful food products," China's Ministry of Public Security said on its website, as it summarized actions taken since the scandal erupted in September last year. It did not give details on who the 60 people were.

The official Xinhua News Agency said all six suspects arrested Thursday worked in Inner Mongolia, a region of sprawling grasslands that has become China's dairy heartland. Countless small dairy farms dot the grasslands, with milk collected at stations and then sold to large dairy companies. One suspect, identified by Xinhua only by his surname Cui, ran a collection station and allegedly confessed to mixing about 25 gallons of water to 544 gallons of fresh milk. He then added 21 ounces — about three or four cups — of fake protein, which contained melamine, to hide the fact that it was diluted. Xinhua said he sold the tainted batch to Mengniu Dairy Group Co. on Sept. 18 — well after the deaths and illnesses of infants due to melamine had begun to appear in local Chinese media. The report said police also arrested a man named Sun who ran a store in Inner Mongolia's capital of Hohhot and is accused of selling 44 pounds of the fake protein powder to Cui for $54. The powder's packaging allegedly had no description of its ingredients, date of production or name of manufacturer. Four others were arrested on suspicion of selling melamine-tainted whey powder to milk or adding melamine products to milk. Authorities had previously arrested 36 people in northern China's Hebei province, which is the home of Sanlu Group Co., the company at the center of the tainted milk crisis. Those arrested include Tian Wenhua, the company's chairwoman and general manager.

Nine people have been arrested in China's Hebei Province for allegedly taking part in the production or purchase of the substance melamine, police say. Police allege that eight of the suspects purchased unspecified amounts of melamine, the substance blamed in the contamination of Chinese milk products. The ninth suspect allegedly produced more than 600 tons of a mixture containing melamine, China's state-run official Xinhua news agency said Friday. Police say suspect Zhang Yujun was arrested for allegedly creating a mixture containing both melamine and maltodextrin between August 2007 and September 2008. The nine arrests this week brought the running tally of Chinese arrests in relation to the contaminated milk scandal to 36, Xinhua reported.

According to Food Chemical News (November 10), China has arrested the owner of a poultry feed company in Liaoning Province. The numbers are interesting. Reportedly, he admitted buying 45 tons of melamine in July, using it to produce 287 tons of chicken feed, and selling 212 tons to the Dalian Hanovo Enterprise Group, the company that produced melamine-contaminated eggs sent all over China. The remaining 75 tons has been destroyed.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua said that of the 22 people detained, 19 were managers of 17 pastures, breeding farms and milk purchasing stations. Police arrested 12 more people in an early morning Hebei Province sweep on Thursday amid an intensifying crackdown involving tainted milk powder that has killed three infants and sickened 6,244 others. Shi Guizhong, spokesman for the Hebei Provincial Security Department, said 18 suspects have been formally arrested so far. Ten others were detained. All 18 suspects were said to be residents of greater Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. Six allegedly sold the industrial chemical melamine, while the remaining 12 were dealers suspected of selling contaminated milk. Police also seized some 300 kg of suspicious chemicals, of which 222.5 kg proved to be melamine. One suspect surnamed Su, who was arrested on Tuesday, confessed during police interrogation that he bought 200 bags of melamine, each weighing 20 kg, between February 2007 and July 2008 at a cost of 200 yuan (about 28.6 U.S. dollars) and resold the chemical to milk dealerships at 218 yuan. The police is hunting for milk dealer Xue Jianzhong, who allegedly added melamine to his milk. Xue was put on the wanted list late on Wednesday.

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