Toxic milk scandal: Second trial begins today
By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-26 09:20

Four suspects in the melamine-tainted milk powder scandal, which killed at least six infants and poisoned almost 300,000 more last year, will begin their second trials today in a mid-level court in Hebei province.

The Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court, which had on Jan 22 - the first trial - handed down sentences ranging from five years to death, will hear the cases of the accused, two of who were given death, in a small courtroom, in the presence of representatives of just three State-owned media houses.

Tian Wenhua, 66, the detained ex-boss of the now-defunct Sanlu Group, which produced the most amount of melamine-tainted milk powder, will not face a second trial, the Hebei Higher People's Court said.

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Tian was sentenced to life in prison and was fined about 25 million yuan ($3.7 million) on Jan 22 after the court found her guilty of producing and selling fake or substandard products, and for not stopping the sale of the products after learning that they were contaminated.

The court said it will review the sentences of Tian and three other former senior executives of the diary giant, now acquired by a Beijing-based competitor, without holding an open trial.

"The judges will just review the evidence," said Liu Xinwei, one of the two lawyers representing Tian, adding the verdicts of the second trial may be announced as early as next week.

"Chances are the previous sentences will be upheld," Liang Zikan, another lawyer representing Tian, told China Daily yesterday from his law firm in Shanghai.

"Neither Tian nor her family members had the intention to appeal after the first sentence," Liang said. "She decided to do so because the other prosecuted executives wanted to appeal."

Brothers Geng Jinping and Geng Jinzhu, along with, Zhang Yujun and Zhang Yanzhang, will go on trial today for producing and selling toxic food and endangering public security. Geng Jinping and Zhang Yujun were sentenced to death in their first trial on Jan 22.

The court said the verdicts of the second trial may be announced today itself.