Top officials indicted in Remedia affair

State Attorney Moshe Lador decides not to reverse his predecessor's decision on the case.

remedia 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
remedia 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Five Health Ministry officials, including the former head of the National Food Service, were among those indicted Tuesday in the 2003 Remedia baby formula affair, in which three babies died and 20 suffered serious harm. The indictments were filed according to a decision reached Monday by State Attorney Moshe Lador. Lador ratified a decision made earlier by his predecessor, Eran Shendar, after he had been asked by Health Ministry Director-General Avi Yisraeli to reconsider Shendar's decision. According to a statement issued by the Justice Ministry spokesman, "State Attorney Moshe Lador informed Health Ministry Director-General Avi Yisrael that he would not change the decision taken in the past to indict Health Ministry employees regarding the Remedia affair. "Therefore, the Central District Attorney's Office is due to file the indictment in the next few days." The ministry employees who were indicted include Dr. Dorit Nitzan-Klosky, who was in charge of the National Food Service at the time of the affair, and four supervisors at the Ashdod and Haifa ports, whose job it was to examine food imports. Remedia is a German-based company. Three former senior Remedia officials are also included in the indictment. They are Gideon Landsberger, who was the company's director-general, Moshe Miller, a former owner of the company, and Frederick Black, the company's former food technologist. According to the Justice Ministry statement, the prosecution held hearings for all the suspects, after which Shendar decided to indict them. The deaths and serious injuries to the babies were caused by the fact that the formula did not include Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), even though the cans stated that they did. Vitamin B1 is used by the body to break down sugars, releasing energy into the cell. 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 creates neuropathological symptoms including sleepiness, slowness, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. The Remedia officials were charged with negligence resulting in death and negligence resulting in physical harm. The Health Ministry officials were charged with carrying out their duties negligently and violating their professional responsibilities. The ministry added that because of the importance of the case to the public and the large amount of evidence that that had been gathered, it would recommend that the court appoint a panel of three judges to hear it.