In China, Tainted Milk Trial Kept Under Wraps

The Los Angeles Times reports that despite the attention focused on the trial of four Sanlu executives for their role in the tainted milk scandal, authorities in China are tightly controlling access to the courtroom:

China has made a big show of the trial, releasing courtroom video of the defendants being paraded before the judges in yellow-and-black prison garb. But the public has seen only snippets and images, and all but a few carefully screened journalists from government-owned news media have been excluded.

Parents and their lawyers, many of whom traveled from across the country in hopes of seeing the trial, are also personae non gratae at the well- secured courthouse here in Shijiazhuang, about 190 miles south of Beijing.

“There is no transparency in the process. They are behaving like there is something to hide,” said Teng Biao, a Beijing lawyer who has been trying to bring a lawsuit on behalf of 111 parents. “They are completely excluding the victims.”

TVNZ, meanwhile, says that reports that the guilty plea allegedly entered by former chair of Sanlu, Tian Wenhua, may now be in dispute:

Media reported Tien admitted in court testimony on Wednesday that she had known of problems with the company’s products for two months before she told authorities.

Three other executives were reported by the China Daily newspaper to be facing similar charges, and possible execution if convicted.

But dairy giant Fonterra has rejected the reports Tien pleaded guilty to the charges.

Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier, whose company wrote off its 43% Sanlu shareholding for a loss of $201 million, said on Thursday night he had heard conflicting reports from the trial, The New Zealand Herald reported.


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