Relatives of tainted syrup victims decry ruling in Spain
Relatives of the 224 people killed by tainted glycerin shipped from Spain and used in preparing medicine here condemned Tuesday's decision by a Madrid court to shut off further legal claims against the exporter.
Spain's top criminal court upheld a lower court decision to discontinue a probe into the 2006 deaths which occurred after Barcelona-based Rasfer imported 2,300 gallons (9,000 liters) of glycerin from China, and then sent it on to Panama where it was used to make sugar-free syrup expectorant for hypertension and diabetes.
The syrup was contaminated with diethylene glycol, an industrial product not designed for human consumption.
"This legal decision, which offends the dignity of the Panamanian people, is both irresponsible and absurd," Gabriel Pascual, the chairman of the victims' committee, told AFP.
A Spanish court ruled in April that there was no criminal intent on behalf of Rasfer, which it said was only an intermediary and not required to carry out tests on the product, which was supplied to it by China's CNSC Fortune Way Company.
"We are very disappointed, very frustrated and powerless," said Mitzila Donado, who lost her father in the disaster.
"It's bad enough that they can come over here and poison a whole country and nothing happens to them," she added.
According to Pascual, more than 10,000 people have been contaminated, even though the Panamanian authorities recognize only 224 dead.
© 2011 AFP