“A holocaust, holocaust, holocaust, the defendants in their negligence committed
a holocaust against us,” Ofer Shova, one of the victims’ fathers told the Petah
Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for the 2003
Remedia baby formula affair. His remarks were primarily focused on former
Remedia top technologist Frederick Black, but also on former CEO Gideon
Around two weeks ago, Black was convicted of negligent
homicide, the only major conviction in the case and the only one with a real
possibility of jail time.
Landsberger was acquitted of negligent homicide
and convicted of only a minor crime, likely to mean he will get a much lighter
sentence, such as community service. Former Remedia owner Moshe Miller
was fully acquitted.
Shova went on to say that “the blood of our babies
cries out to us from the ground” and said he and the other parents wanted “an
eye for an eye.”
The prosecution called for the maximum sentence,
including substantial jail time for Black.
Black’s lawyer and wife
pleaded with the court that he had suffered enough from years of guilt and asked
for a light sentence with no jail time. The sentence will be handed down on
The three officials were indicted in 2008 and were all accused
of negligent homicide and committing acts likely to cause disease, as well as
When it reached its verdict, the court called the affair “a
horrible and disgraceful disaster, which evolved into a tragedy.”
partial conviction and partial acquittals were at best a mixed result for the
families of the three babies who died, and the around 20 babies who suffered
serious harm, caused by the fact that Remedia’s revised vegetarian formula did
not include Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), even though its packaging stated that it
Remedia received the formula from a German-based company called
Humana Milchunion, which makes baby food.
In largely acquitting
Landsberger and fully acquitting Miller, the court placed most of the
responsibility on Humana.
It ruled that Remedia had not been included in
the decision to omit Vitamin B1, and only convicted Black of negligent homicide
because he was the top science professional who, according to the court, was
negligent in not uncovering the issue.
Michal Zisser, whose baby died due
to the baby formula, reacted to the result in which most of the responsibility
was placed on Humana and not Remedia, stating, “This is ridiculous, because
basically I bought from Remedia, not from Humana.”
Eli Olnobsky, another
parent of a baby who died, responded to the ruling: “It [Remedia] had no hand in
it? It did! They did not get what they deserved. There is no
The body uses Vitamin B1 to break down sugars, releasing energy
into the cells. Vitamin B1 deficiency reduces the amount of energy available and
can harm bodily systems, particularly the central nervous system.
B1 also prevents concentrations of lactic acid. Without it, too much acid
accumulates in the body, which affects the baby’s sense of
Damage to the central nervous system leads to neuropathological
symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea
In a dramatic moment, the court read out the names of each
of the victims, their dates of birth, and the dates of death of the babies who
The court said, “These gentle ones, victims, innocent, and the
families in their perpetual suffering will always be before our eyes and fill
all human beings with deep sadness.”
Judge Lia Lev also said, however,
that in deciding the fates of the three defendants, she was bound by the
framework of criminal law and what had, or had not, been proven beyond a
Regarding Black, the court said he had had the overall
responsibility and the ability to check into the issues relating to the Vitamin
B1 deficiency in light of changes he knew were taking place regarding the baby
formula, and had negligently failed to do so, leaving the victims exposed, and
doomed to their fate.
In contrast, the court found that the other two
officials had no idea, or warning, about the changes to the baby formula and had
relied on Black and other science professionals to advise them on such issues.