Is justice right around the corner? Four and a half years after faulty Remedia baby formula caused the deaths of three infants and severely debilitated 20 others, the State Prosecutor's Office is finally ready to indict.
In November 2003, dozens of infants were hospitalized in serious condition. Three of them died from what was later identified as a severe vitamin B1 – Thiamine – deficiency; which was traced back to Remedia's vegetarian baby formula
Thiamine deficiency among infants can cause serious, sometimes irreversible, damage to the central nerve system, the spine and various parts of the brain.
Disastrous results. Faulty branding on formula (Archive photo: Oren Agmon)
In a brief filed with the Petah Tikva District Court as part of the civil suit files against the Remedia, the State Prosecutor's Office informed the court that the criminal indictment against the company is just one month away.
The brief, filed by attorney Rachel Alaluf, also asked the court for a continuance on behalf of the defense: Two of the defendants named in the indictment are the Ministry of Health and Dr. Dorit Nitzan-Klosky, former director-general of the National Food Service.
This legal rarity, the Remedia has the State both prosecuting and defending one of its government bureaus.
The Health Ministry has petitioned both former State Prosecutor Eran Shendar and newly appointed State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, asking they be dropped from the indictment.
The ministry has also file a motion of continuance on behalf of the defense, stating who ever is named in the final indictment its wording and counts, may carry a significant weight in the way the defense is mounted, especially if any of the defendants are state employees.
"The Remedia case is in its final stretch," said the Justice Ministry. "Any decisions regarding the case will be made by senior officials in the ministry, and any and all questions as to the identification of the defendants will be resolved soon."
Justice slow to grind
So what happened? Why did it take the State four and a half years to prosecute?
The original indictment against Former owner Moshe Miller, CEO Gideon Landsberger and food technologist Frederic Black and Dr. Nitzan-Klosky, was complied of a multitude of sins: Negligent homicide, criminal negligence, fraud and malice against the formers; and spreading a disease against the latter.
The indictment slammed Remedia's Miller and Landsberger for knowingly intrusting Black with responsibilities they knew he was ill equipped to handle; for falsely assuming that their German manufacturers, Humanna, was approved by the Israeli Ministry of Health and for trusting Humanna implicitly, failing to create their own quality control.
The question that remains to be seen now, is how can the State claim the Health Ministry was fraudulent, when it claims Remedia was the one defrauding the Health Ministry.