Death sentences in China milk trial The court has tried 21 suspects on a range of charges related to the tainted milk scandal [Reuters] A Chinese court has sentenced to death two men convicted of playing a key role in last year's scandal over tainted milk products. In a series of verdicts handed down on Thursday, the former boss of bankrupt dairy giant Sanlu, one of the main firms at the centre of the scandal, was jailed for life. Tian Wenhua was convicted of producing and selling fake or substandard products, charges to which she had pleaded guilty. The two men facing execution include Zhang Yujun, who was convicted of running a workshop that was allegedly the largest source of melamine, the industrial chemical responsible for the health crisis. He was found guilty of endangering public safety. China's toxic milk scandal Melamine is a toxic industrial chemical normally used in plastics and fertilisers Investigations showed melamine was added in the supply chain to make diluted milk's protein levels appear higher Nearly 10 per cent of milk samples from China's top three dairies were found to be tainted with melamine The contamination was blamed for the deaths of six infants and for making some 300,000 more ill Products from more than 22 Chinese companies were affected, with recalls issued across China and for Chinese-made products around the world The convictions follow the trial of 21 suspects accused of involvement in the tainted milk scandal, at a court in the city of Shijiazhuang, capital of the central Hebei province. Three other former Sanlu executives were given sentences of between five and 15 years, while another man, Zhang Yanzhang, was given a life sentence, also for endangering public safety. Guilty plea Tian, the 66-year-old former Sanlu boss, pleaded guilty late last month to charges of producing and selling "fake or substandard" products after infant formula was found to be contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine. She had admitted that she knew of problems with her company's products for months before informing authorities. The scandal was exposed in September. The contamination has been blamed for killing at least six babies and causing nearly 300,000 others to fall ill. State media reported that Tian could face the death penalty, but her lawyer Liu Xinwei was quoted earlier this week in the Beijing News as saying that capital punishment was not applicable in the case. "According to the criminal law, there is no capital punishment for the crime of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products," Liu said. "Therefore, the most severe penalty for her would be life imprisonment." Aside from the four former Sanlu executives, 17 others had faced prosecution, charged with producing, adding or selling melamine-tainted milk to dairy companies, the official Xinhua News Agency said.