China: Father jailed over food safety protest

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The Independent Online

A father who organised a support group for other parents whose children were made ill in one of China's worst food-safety scandals was convicted and sentenced yesterday to two-and-a-half years in prison for inciting social disorder.

Zhao Lianhai had pushed for greater official accountability and compensation for victims and their families after the scandal in 2008. His sentence appeared particularly severe because the case related to a public-safety incident that the embarrassed leadership had pledged to tackle to restore consumer confidence. "We had expected it to be much less than that. It is such a harsh sentence," said his lawyer Li Fangping.

Mr Zhao, from Beijing, whose son was among the nearly 300,000 children sickened by melamine-tainted milk, vowed to appeal and began a hunger strike over the verdict, Mr Li said.