SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The former board chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, Tian Wenhua, plans to appeal after being sentenced to jail for life for her role in the melamine scandal, according to her lawyer Liang Zikai on Saturday.
Liang told Xinhua that Tian plans to appeal because the judgment said that the milk powder produced by Sanlu since Aug. 2damaged consumers' health, while she and her lawyers believe the ruling lacks evidence.
Tian was convicted of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court and sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
She was also fined 24.7 million yuan (3.6 million U.S. dollars). Three other former Sanlu executives received sentences of 5 to 15 years in jail for their roles in the scandal that left at least six Chinese infants dead and almost 300,000 ill.
Sanlu decided to limit the level of melamine within 10 mg for every kg of milk, instead of ceasing production of melamine-tainted products, on Aug. 1 last year after the Hebei Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau confirmed samples sent by the company were contaminated.
Tian and her lawyers argue that products produced before Aug. 2damaged consumers' health, according to Liang.
Tian said last month during her trial that she made the decision not to halt production of the tainted products because a board member, designated by New Zealand dairy product giant Fonterra that partly owned Sanlu Group, presented her a document saying a maximum of 20 mg of melamine was allowed in every kg of milk in the European Union. She said she had trusted the document at that time.
Liang said the lawyers will enter a not-guilty plea if Tian's appeal is heard.
Liang said Tian should be convicted of liability in a major accident instead of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products. Tian would have received a sentence of up to seven years in jail under a conviction of liability of a major accident.
The Sanlu Group, whose bankruptcy petition was accepted by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court last month, was fined 49.37 million yuan, according to the Shijiazhuang court Thursday.