SHIJIAZHUANG, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, Tian Wenhua, Sunday lodged an appeal to overturn a life sentence for her role in the melamine milk contamination scandal, her lawyer said.
Liang Zikan said Tian had appealed to the Higher People's Court of Hebei Province because the judgment in the first trial did not clearly distinguish the facts and lacked evidence.
Tian was convicted at the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products. The life sentence was imposed on Jan. 22. Tian was also fined 24.7 million yuan (3.6 million U.S. dollars).
The ruling in the first trial said Tian authorized the sale of products that contains 10 mg of melamine in every 1 kg of milk at a meeting on August 13, 2008, citing a so-called EU standard. Liang said the standard was not raised by Tian, but rather by a board member designated by New Zealand dairy product giant Fonterra, which had a 43-percent stake in Sanlu Group.
Tian and her lawyers also argued the court lacked evidence to say that Tian agreed to receive the problematic crude milk.
Tian said the management of Sanlu Group decided to recall and cease selling the baby milk powder containing melamine on Aug. 1 when the Hebei Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau confirmed that samples sent by the company were contaminated.
Even if the milk powder department under the group failed to inform the downstream dealers, Tian should not bear the responsibility, Liang said.
Three other former Sanlu executives received jail terms of 5 to 15 years for their roles in the scandal.
The Sanlu Group, whose bankruptcy petition was accepted by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court last month, was fined 49.37 million yuan by the Shijiazhuang court.
The melamine scandal was exposed in September 2008. Almost all the major Chinese dairy producers were involved in it, bringing a destructive blow to the dairy industry.
Melamine-contaminated milk killed six children nationwide, and sickened 296,000 infants, according to the Ministry of Health.