CHINESE JUSTICE: TOO EXTREME OR JUSTIFIED?
Nineteen other people were sentenced to prison terms.
Melamine is used in the making of plastics and fertilizers. When added to food products it indicates a higher apparent protein content but can cause kidney stones and kidney failure.
It emerged that Sanlu had known it was selling toxic milk - and allowed around 900 tonnes of it to leave its dairies before it stopped production.
The case provoked widespread public outrage in China and came after a series of similar food safety incidents, including another one of contaminated milk powder four years previously which left 13 babies dead.
It led to product recalls across the globe, and further damaged China's reputation for producing safe and reliable products, correspondents say.
Is this a too extreme form of justice?
Or, does 13 dead babies the 4 years previous, and 6 dead babies and 300,000 sick in this case justify this kind of justice?
Or maybe, it’s the World Wide Recall and further damage to the Chinese reputation while striving to develop as a trusted economic partner?
The authorities found that the melamine was added to create the illusion of a higher protein content in the powder. Mr. Zhang was found guilty of selling more than 1.3 million pounds of tainted milk powder from July 2007 to August 2008, and Mr. Geng was convicted of selling more than 1.9 million pounds of contaminated product. Nineteen other people were tried and sentenced in January for their roles in the scheme. Fifteen of them were imprisoned for terms ranging from 2 to 15 years. One received a suspended death sentence, and three received life sentences.
Beijing is eager to prove it has responded swiftly and comprehensively to eliminate the problem - one in a string of food safety scares.