Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 5 News List

China officials told tainted milk victims not to sue: lawyers

AFP , BEIJING AND TOKYO

Lawyers for victims of China’s tainted milk scandal said yesterday the government had warned them not to sue, although three lawsuits had already been filed and more were expected.

The three suits filed separately seek damages over the contamination of dairy supplies with the industrial chemical melamine, which has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening 53,000 children.

However, the courts involved had yet to notify plaintiffs whether the cases would be accepted, while judicial authorities were warning lawyers to back off, Beijing attorney Li Fangping (李方平) said.

The first case was filed in late last month in central Henan Province, said the Shanghai-based attorney in that case, Ji Cheng (季成). He declined further comment.

State media reported last week that another case had been filed in Guangdong Province earlier this month, with the latest suit filed Monday in Gansu Province where the scandal first emerged.

Meanwhile, the Japanese importer of Chinese-made frozen beans containing thousands of times the legal level of pesticide said yesterday that the contamination likely occurred after harvest.

Japan on Wednesday ordered retailers to pull the green beans off shelves after a woman fell ill from eating a product which had 34,500 times the legal limit of pesticide.

Two more people also complained of illness, although test results released yesterday found no abnormal level of pesticides.

The beans’ manufacturer, Yantai Beihai Foodstuff in eastern China, said it did not believe the company was responsible.

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