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China court sentences 2 to death over tainted milk scandal

[JURIST] A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced two people to death and several to life imprisonment for their involvement in the melamine-tainted milk scandal [JURIST news archive] that sickened almost 300,000 children and killed at least six. Chairwoman of the now-bankrupt [NYT report] Sanlu Group [Research and Markets profile] Tian Wenhua pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in December and received a life sentence Thursday. The Shijiazhuang court ordered [Xinhua report] the death penalty for Zhang Yujun for producing the supposed protein additive that contained melamine [FDA backgrounder]. Geng Jinping, a Sanlu employee, was also ordered to receive the death penalty for his involvement in the scandal.

Despite the sentences, the victims of the scandal are not appeased. Some victims feel that sentences should be more severe and that the scandal is larger than just the dairy companies. In December, a court ordered at-fault dairy companies to pay $160 million [JURIST report] in compensation to the victims' families although some have been advised to wait for a larger settlement. On Friday, lawyers for the families of 213 Chinese children sickened or killed by the contaminated milk petitioned [JURIST report] the Supreme People's Court [official website, in Mandarin], China's highest court, to hear a class action lawsuit against 22 dairy companies involved in the contamination, seeking more than $5 million in damages.

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