Former Dairy Boss Pleads Guilty in Chinese Milk Scandal Trial  བོད་སྐད།

The former head of the Chinese company at the center of China's deadly tainted milk scandal has pleaded guilty to the charges of producing and selling substandard products.

The official Xinhua news agency says the trial of Sanlu Group's Tian Wenhua and three other executives began Wednesday in northern Hebei's (province's) capital, Shijiazhuang, where the company's headquarters is located.

Xinhua says Tian testified that her company first began investigating product quality issues in May, but did not notify authorities that its products were tainted the industrial chemical melamine until August of this year.

Prosecutors say the company first began receiving complaints about the quality of its product from consumers as early as December of 2007.

The scandal was not exposed until September of this year.

At least 17 other people have gone on trial over their involvement in the melamine-tainted milk scandal, which led to the deaths of six children and sickened nearly 300-thousand others.

The courts have not yet announced any verdicts.

The chemical melamine is believed to have been used to make foods such as watered-down milk appear to be higher in protein.

If taken in excessive levels, melamine can cause kidney stones, and babies who drank tainted infant formula were the most widely affected.

Tian and her three colleagues were escorted into court today in handcuffs and flanked by police where they stood before a three judge panel. Xinhua says defendant Wang Yuliang had to be pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

Xinhua says Wang lost use of his legs during a suicide attempt while he was being held under house arrest over the company's scandal.

Sanlu declared itself bankrupt last week.

The scandal not only tarnished company's reputation, but China's as well. It comes after a series of food and product safety scares and led to recalls of Chinese-made dairy products around the world.