11/10/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Man who criticised authorities over tainted milk is convicted

A Chinese court sentences Zhao Lianhai to two and half years in prison for setting up a website to collect information about tainted milk-related dangers. Six children died and an additional 300,000 were poisoned. His crime: “inciting social disorder”.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Chinese court sentenced Zhao Lianhai, a mainland man who organised an online support group for parents of children sickened in the melamine-tainted milk scandal, to two and half years in prison for inciting social disorder.

Zhao had set up a webpage after his five-year daughter got sick from tainted milk. At the height of the scandal in 2008, at least six children died from drinking contaminated milk formula and an additional 300,000 were poisoned.

Arrested in November 2009, Zhao, on his website, had pushed for greater accountability and compensation for victims and their families.

Because of this, he was found guilty of inciting social disorder, lawyer Li Fangping said. However, “We'd expected it to be much less than that. It is such a harsh sentence,” he added.

At the time, Chinese leaders were very embarrassed by the milk scandal, whose effects rippled across the country, shacking up people’s confidence.

Zhao said he would appeal his conviction, letting it be known that he was going on a hunger strike to protest the verdict.

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