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 chemical, normally used to make plastics and fertiliser, was 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."

The other defendants include three former senior executives of Sanlu as well as 17 others charged with producing, adding or selling melamine-tainted milk to dairy companies, the official Xinhua News Agency said.