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Chinese worker pleads guilty in dumpling poisoning case

BEIJING (AP) — A former food plant worker in China confessed in court on Tuesday to poisoning frozen dumplings that sickened 10 people in Japan in 2008, a scandal that strained Beijing-Tokyo relations just months before China hosted the Olympic Games.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday that 39-year-old Lu Yueting went on trial in Shijiazhuang in northern China’s Hebei province and that Japanese officials were present. A court employee confirmed the trial but did not give his name, which is common among low-ranking Chinese bureaucrats.

A verdict is expected to be announced at a later date. Citing local prosecutors, the state-run English-language China Daily newspaper said the man is likely to receive at least 10 years in prison.

The former worker of Shijiazhuang-based Tianyang Food Plant was dissatisfied with his wages and, in late 2007, injected insecticide into several boxes of frozen dumplings to get attention from his managers, Xinhua said.

The products were later sold in Japan and in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Four Chinese people also were sickened, Xinhua said.

Millions of bags of dumplings were recalled, and Chinese food products were taken off shelves in Japan out of food safety worries, while Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Olympics Games.

Xinhua said authorities detained Lu in 2010 after more than two years of investigations. China Daily said he contaminated the dumplings with methamidophos, a type of pesticide.

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