/

China to issue verdict on dumpling poisoning case next Monday

Kyodo

A Chinese court is due next week to deliver a verdict against a 39-year-old man who is accused of poisoning frozen “gyoza” dumplings that sickened 10 people in Japan nearly six years ago and raised concerns over the safety of Chinese food products, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing said Thursday.

The ruling on Lu Yueting, a former temporary worker at a food plant, will be announced by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court on Monday at a time when Sino-Japanese relations are severely strained following renewed tensions over historical issues and a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea that both countries claim sovereignty over.

The defendant admitted to putting insecticide in the dumplings during his first trial session in late July at the court.

The gyoza, produced by the factory in Hebei province run by Tianyang Food, were later exported to Japan, where they made a 5-year-old girl seriously ill and at least nine others sick.

The poisonings, which surfaced in January 2008, before the Beijing Olympics, not only sparked a worldwide scare over food safety in China but also at that time deteriorated ties between the two countries.

Prior to Lu’s arrest in 2010, Chinese authorities claimed the Japanese side was responsible for the tainted dumplings.

According to prosecutors, Lu injected methamidophos into the dumplings, using a syringe, over frustration with his wages and colleagues.

They said that he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison for the case, which also sickened four Chinese people and forced the food company to shut down the plant, causing it to suffer losses of about 5.5 million yuan.