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China Hands Down Death Sentences for Tainted Milk Scandal

BEIJING—Three people were sentenced to death by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court on Jan. 22 for their role in last year’s tainted milk scandal that killed at least six children and made thousands ill.

As reported by, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping were sentenced to death, while Gao Junjie received a death sentence that was suspended for two years. That sentence typically is commuted to life in prison.

Tiam Wenhua, the chairwoman of the Sanlu Group Chinese diary company who pleaded guilty to charges of “producing and selling fake or substandard products," was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 20 million yuan.

Executives at Sanlu, partly owned by New Zealand's Fonterra group, failed to report cases of Chinese children developing kidney stones and other complications from drinking milk adulterated with melamine for months before the scandal broke in September.

Melamine, an industrial compound used in making plastic chairs, countertops, plates, flame retardants and even concrete, has been added to food to cheat nutrition tests due to its high nitrogen content.

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