Fonterra accepts Chinese court's verdicts

Dairy giant Fonterra has accepted a Chinese court's guilty verdicts in the contaminated milk scandal which left six babies dead but not the death sentence it has imposed.

The court sentenced to death cattle farmer Zhang Yujun, 40, and milk trader Geng Jinping for the scandal, which also left hundreds of thousands of infants ill.

The contaminated milk powder was produced by Sanlu, a company 43 per cent owned by Fonterra, which has now written off its $200 million investment.

Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier said yesterday the company accepted the court's findings but that it did not support the death penalty.

"We accept the court's findings but Fonterra supports the New Zealand Government's position on the death penalty," he said.

"Fonterra deeply regrets the harm and pain this tragedy has caused so many Chinese families," said Mr Ferrier.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said the Chinese Government had a right "to take a very serious attitude".

"New Zealand does not condone the death sentence but we respect their rights to take a very serious attitude to what was an extremely serious scandal."

But Amnesty International New Zealand's chief executive Patrick Holmes criticised the decision to execute the men and raised concerns about New Zealand's implication in the scandal.

- NZPA

- Herald on Sunday

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