GUY RAZ, host:
Another development in China's tainted milk scandal today. The parents of several sickened children were detained this week. Police have just released them. All that while dairy company executives are on trial for selling adulterated products. And the government's offered compensation to affected consumers. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing on the scandal that just keeps going.
ANTHONY KUHN: Jao Linhai's(ph) child was one of nearly 300,000 in China who got sick from ingesting milk powder tainted with the chemical melamine. So far, six of the children have died. Jao created a Web site for parents with similar experiences, and several hundred people nationwide joined his online community. Yesterday, police detained Jao and others in his group ahead of a scheduled press conference. Parents who weren't detained held an impromptu briefing on the street. One parent named Jian Yah Lin(ph) said the government's plan to compensate victims' families was insufficient.
Ms. JIAN YAH LIN: (Through Translator) The current plan calls for victims' medical expenses to be covered until they're 18 years old. What we're demanding is that they be covered for life because we have no idea exactly how much harm melamine can cause them.
KUHN: As parents campaign and fret, a court in north China is considering a verdict in the trial of 66-year-old Tian Wenhua. She's the former general manager of Sanlu, one of China's biggest dairy companies and provider of milk to China's astronauts and Olympic athletes. Tian told the court this week that she became aware of consumer complaints in mid-May. But Sanlu continued to produce and sell hundreds of tons of milk powder laced with melamine until the scandal came to light in September, just after the Olympics.
This week, dairy companies involved in the scandal took an unusual step. They sent New Year's text messages to millions of cell phone subscribers across the country. The messages said, "We sincerely apologize and beg your forgiveness." Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.