FORMER REMEDIA technologist Frederick Black 370.
(photo credit: Yediot Aharonot, pool/Yariv Katz)
The 10-year-old Remedia baby formula saga may finally have come to an end on
Thursday with the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court sentencing the company’s former
top technologist Frederick Black to 30 months in prison following his conviction
for negligent homicide last month.
Former CEO Gideon Landsberger,
acquitted of the serious crime of negligent homicide, but convicted of only a
minor crime, was fined NIS 10,000.
The former owner of the company, Moshe
Miller was not convicted or fined.
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.
The 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.
Amir Nati, a family member of one of the
victims, did say about Black’s sentence and conviction, “This is not a holiday,
but we are satisfied with the punishment that the court decreed.”
trying to influence the court to impose a severe sentence last month, Ofer
Shova, one of the victims’ fathers, told the judge, “A holocaust, holocaust,
holocaust, the defendants in their negligence committed against us a
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
But the victims’ families were not the only with some
disappointment, as Black’s lawyer Nati Simhoni said that the punishment “was too
heavy,” “not just” and that “there are substantial errors in the verdict. Our
intention is to appeal.”
Black’s lawyer and wife had pleaded with the
court that he had suffered enough from years of guilt and asked for a light
sentence with no jail time.
But the court 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 German-based company called Humana Milchunion, which makes baby
In mostly acquitting Landsberger and fully acquitting Miller, the
court had placed most of the responsibility on Humana.
The 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
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
Damage to the central nervous system leads to neuropathological
symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea
In a dramatic moment during the reading of the verdict, the
court had read out the names of each of the victims, their dates of birth and
the dates of death for the babies who died.
“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,” the court
The court’s Deputy President Lia Lev On also said, however, that in
deciding the fates of the three defendants, she was bound by the contours of the
criminal law and what had or had not been proven beyond a reasonable
Regarding Black, the court said that he had the overall
responsibility and 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 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.