Death penalties were inflicted for the Chinese milk scandal

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Two persons were sentenced to death for producing and selling the Chinese milk powder containing melamine. Several other persons were sentenced to prison and three of them for life.

In the trial ,arranged in Shijiazhuang in north China, altogether 21 persons were accused for being involved in the big milk scandal which was revealed in China in September last year. The producer of the milk powder, Zhang Yujun, and a salesman, Geng Jinping, were sentenced to death for causing disease for more than 300 000 and death to 6 children. One of the men was sentenced for endangering the national safety. Among the three persons who were sentenced to imprisonment for life was the former leader of the company called Sanlu, which produced dangerous milk products.

Many of the victims families were gathered outside the courthouse where the trial was held. Several of them were dissatisfied with the fact that Tian Wenhua, the former leader of the Sanlu-company, didn’t get a death penalty and only was sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Tian Wenhua is also forced to pay a penalty of about 2,2 million euro. Earlier the companies involved in the scandal has been forced to pay altogether 125 million euro. A lot of the parents to the children who got ill think that the penalties are too lenient.

In the scandal melamine was added to milk powder to make it appear higher in protein. Melamine causes serious problems with the kidney.

Read more about the background and development of the milk scandal here.

Videoclip from september during the scandal


Death penalty – right or wrong?


In Europe there are no death penalties, but China has the highest rate of death sentences in the world. There is a debate going on in Europe about death sentences from a human rights perspective. Especially in a case like this, where over 20 companies have been involved in the crime and only two persons have to suffer the most for the whole thing.

Finnish people have discussed the matter on the Internet in different mediaforums, such as YLE and Helsingin Sanomat. For example ”shouldn´t the maximum sentence belong to the management of the dairycompany instead of to the person that made the powder?” Some people think that you can never know in China if the convicted really are guilty or not, people think that death penalty is something you can buy.

On the other hand, there are also people who think that death penalty is acceptable. For example comments like “If you kill, you should also be killed” are common on the debateforums.

The political opinion about death penalty in Europe is based on the United Nations declaration on human rights. The declaration claims that everyone has right to live and no one should be subjected to cruel or inhuman punishment.

Death penalty should be questioned in a case like this. Were the right persons convicted? Is the Chinese legal system legitime? These questions and many more deserve attention and international debate.



Note: The pictures are from Reuters


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