[JURIST] China announced on Tuesday that two people had been executed for their roles in last year's melamine tainted milk scandal [JURIST news archive], in which almost 300,000 children were sickened and at least six were killed. The two men, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping, were found responsible for selling at least three million pounds of the tainted milk powder, and were executed for the crimes of endangering public safety by dangerous means and for producing and selling toxic food. The men were originally sentenced to death [JURIST report] in January, but appealed their sentences. The Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court upheld the convictions [Xinhua report] in March. To date a total of 21 people have been tried and sentenced [Times Online report] for their involvement in the milk scandal. Of the 21, two were sentenced to death, one received a suspended death sentence, three were jailed for life, with the other 15 imprisoned for terms ranging from two to 15 years. Among those sentenced to life imprisonment is the former chairwoman for the Chinese dairy company at the heart of the scandal, who has since appealed [JURIST report].
In January, lawyers for the families of 213 Chinese children sickened or killed by melamine-contaminated milk petitioned the Supreme People's Court [official website, in Chinese], China's highest court, to hear a class action lawsuit against 22 dairy companies involved in the contamination. The petition seeks more than $5 million in compensation [Shanghai Daily report] from the companies, including individual amounts more than double those provided for in a government-sanctioned payout plan [JURIST report]. News of possible milk powder contamination by the chemical melamine first broke in September [Guardian report], following the death of an infant and reports that at least 50 other infants had fallen ill after consuming baby formula, leading to massive recalls [BBC report] of both liquid milk products and milk powders.