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George Washington University Law School

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sentencing in Sanlu cases announced

Here's the report from Caijing [English | Chinese]. There's a nice table at the bottom showing who got sentenced to what on what charges. The chairwoman and GM of Sanlu, Tian Wenhua, got life imprisonment for producing and selling substandard products (presumably Art. 140 of the Criminal Law, where a death sentence is not a possibility). Oddly, she was not convicted of producing and selling poisonous food (presumably Art. 144 of the Criminal Code, where a death sentence is a possibility), a charge that was the basis of at least one death sentence. It's hard to believe that had the procuracy charged her under Art. 144, she would not have been convicted; thus, it seems a decision was made early on not to charge her with a capital crime.

The other charge that brought death sentences was that of endangering public safety (presumably under Art. 115 of the Criminal Law, which speaks of causing injury or death through setting fires, cutting off water, explosions, spreading poison, or other dangerous methods). It's not an implausible stretch to apply Art. 115, but I wonder if this is the kind of thing the drafters had in mind; Arts. 140 and 144 seem a much better fit. Perhaps for some reason their premise of "producing or selling" was thought not to apply.

Here are the statutory references:

     第一百一十五条  放火、决水、爆炸、投毒或者以其他危险方法致人重伤、死亡或者使公私财产遭受重大损失的,处十年以上有期徒刑、无期徒刑或者死刑。
    过失犯前款罪的,处三年以上七年以下有期徒刑;情节较轻的,处三年以下有期徒刑或者拘役。

    第一百四十条  生产者、销售者在产品中掺杂、掺假,以假充真,以次充好或者以不合格产品冒充合格产品,销售金额五万元以上不满二十万元的,处二年以下有期徒刑或者拘役,并处或者单处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金;销售金额二十万元以上不满五十万元的,处二年以上七年以下有期徒刑,并处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金;销售金额五十万元以上不满二百万元的,处七年以上有期徒刑,并处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金;销售金额二百万元以上的,处十五年有期徒刑或者无期徒刑,并处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金或者没收财产。

    第一百四十四条  在生产、销售的食品中掺入有毒、有害的非食品原料的,或者销售明知掺有有毒、有害的非食品原料的食品的,处五年以下有期徒刑或者拘役,并处或者单处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金;造成严重食物中毒事故或者其他严重食源性疾患,对人体健康造成严重危害的,处五年以上十年以下有期徒刑,并处销售金额百分之五十以上二倍以下罚金;致人死亡或者对人体健康造成特别严重危害的,依照本法第一百四十一条的规定处罚。[The relevant text from Art. 141 says, "致人死亡或者对人体健康造成特别严重危害的,处十年以上有期徒刑、无期 徒刑或者死刑."]

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