The 10-year-old Remedia baby formula saga continued on Thursday as the Lod District Court altered the rulings of the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court, reducing the former top technologist’s sentence and harshening the former CEO’s sentence.
Both the original and the new sentences and convictions 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 the cans stated that they did.
Technologist Frederick Black had been sentenced to 30 months on his conviction for negligent homicide; his punishment was reduced to 15 months.
Former CEO Gideon Landsberger, acquitted of the serious crime of negligent homicide, and convicted of a minor offense, had been fined NIS 10,000, but on Thursday the district court added 400 hour of community service and a three-month suspended sentence.
The status of former owner of the company, Moshe Miller, who was not convicted or fined by the lower court, remained the same.
The district court said the changes reflected the reality that not everything could be blamed on the professional science experts and that the top company official needed to take more serious responsibility for the scandal.
The three officials were indicted in 2008 and were all accused of negligent homicide and committing acts likely to cause disease, as well as other crimes.
Amir Nati, a family member of one of the victims, had said about Black’s lower court sentence and conviction, “This is not a holiday, but we are satisfied with the punishment that the court decreed.”
In trying to influence the lower court to impose a severe sentence, Ofer Shova, one of the victims’ fathers, had told the judge, “A holocaust, holocaust, holocaust, the defendants in their negligence committed against us a holocaust.” Shova went on to say “The blood of our babies cries out to us from the ground” and that he and the other parents wanted “an eye for an eye.”
Black’s lawyer and wife had pleaded with the lower court that he had suffered enough from years of guilt and asked for a light sentence with no jail time.
But the lower court had said that “the accused was the guardian of the gate who did not ask and did not request to see the results of the tests or the analysis,” referring to Black’s guilt for negligently failing to catch the harm caused by the formula.
Remedia received the formula from a Germany-based company called Humana Milchunion, which makes baby food.
In mostly acquitting Landsberger and fully acquitting Miller, the lower court had placed most of the responsibility on Humana.
The lower court had ruled that Remedia was not in on 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.
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.
Vitamin B1 also prevents concentrations of lactic acid. Without it, too much acid accumulates in the body, which affects the baby’s sense of balance.
Damage to the central nervous system leads to neuropathological symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.
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