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Kindergarten teacher sentenced to death for poisoning children in China

A child eats laba porridge in this Jan. 3, 2009 file photo from China.
A child eats laba porridge in this Jan. 3, 2009 file photo from China. File/Guo Zhihua/Visual China Group via Getty Images

A school teacher in China has been sentenced to death for poisoning more than two dozen young children last year in a case that captured international attention in 2019.

Wang Yun deliberately put sodium nitrate in bowls of porridge meant for a fellow teacher’s class, the court found. The teacher gave the porridge to nursery-school students for breakfast and they quickly fell ill, vomiting and fainting from the poison.

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Twenty-five children were ultimately poisoned in the case, and one boy eventually died after spending 10 months in hospital, BBC News reports.

A court in the central province of Henan sentenced Wang to death and “deprived her of political rights for life” on Monday for the poisoning, the state-run Global Times reports. Wang and the nursery school manager must also compensate the children’s families, according to the AFP.

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Wang poisoned the children on March 27, 2019, as an act of “revenge” against her colleague, the court heard. The two had argued over “student management issues” before the incident.

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The court described Wang as a “despicable and vicious” person who knew the sodium nitrate would be harmful, but acted “with no regard for the consequences.” It also highlighted that she clearly knew what she was doing, as she previously injured her husband by putting sodium nitrate in his mug in 2017.

Her “criminal methods and circumstances were exceedingly bad, with especially severe circumstances, and she should be severely punished in accordance with the law,” the court’s sentencing statement said.

Sodium nitrite is a white or yellowish powder used to cure meats, but it can be toxic when consumed in large amounts.

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It’s not the first time schoolchildren have been the victims of a revenge plot in China. Forty-two people, including many schoolchildren, died in 2002 after a jealous business owner laced some snacks with rat poison. The killer was convicted and executed for the crime.

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China executes criminals by lethal injection or firing squad.