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Asia-pacific

The forgotten victims of the tainted milk scandal

Video by Sébastien LE BELZIC , Henry MORTON

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-21

The former head of China's biggest milk maker was recently condemned to life in prison. However, thousands of plaintiffs who want justice are struggling to get their case examined in court.

Haiqi was just one-year-old when he died after drinking milk tainted by melamine. His was one of six proven cases of infant mortality linked to the scandal that has shocked China. Haiqi’s parents have been seeking compensation, so far in vain.
 
More than 600,000 people are thought to have drunk tainted milk in China. The authorities have so far called into question 22 different companies for their role in the crisis, making an example of the former head of Sanlu, the country’s leading milk producer, who was sentenced to life in jail. 
 
Yet, for the thousands of parents whose children are affected by illnesses possibly linked to melamine, obtaining legal recognition of a right to compensation is a near impossible task. One of the plaintiffs was even jailed for 24 hours after holding an impromptu press conference.
 
To this day, and despite a host of lawyers working on the affair, not a single case has been taken up by a judge. Meanwhile, the population is still waiting to find out why health controls failed so dramatically and how companies could fail to notice.

Date created : 2009-03-20

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