BEIJING - A Chinese court has sentenced the head of an unlicensed kindergarten and an accomplice to death for killing two children with yoghurt laced with rat poison in northern China.
Kindergarten head Shi Haixia poisoned the children last year in a revenge attack aimed at a rival school in northern Hebei province which had a higher enrolment, state broadcaster CCTV reported yesterday.
A court in Hebei sentenced Shi and her lover, Yang Wenming, to death, while the seller of the rat poison was given a five-year jail sentence for illegally selling a hazardous item, the report said.
The two young victims - Ren Xinyi, six, and Ren Zhaoning, five - died after their grandmother found the yoghurt, which was laced with rat poison and placed on a roadside along with several notebooks, on their way to school.
The girls were found "foaming at the mouth", the report said. One died before reaching hospital while the other died after receiving treatment. Their grandmother, who also tasted the tainted beverage, survived the poisoning.
Yang claimed that he was instructed by Shi to purchase a bottle of rat poison and testified in court in January that he injected about "2cm of greyish white liquid" into the yoghurt, a highly popular drink among young children, The Beijing News reported.
Yang alleged that their intention was to just cause vomiting and diarrhoea in children to get Shi's competitor into trouble.
China has a shortage of state-run kindergartens, and competition between private, profit-driven institutions can be intense.
Many children in China's countryside are cared for by their grandparents because their parents have migrated to cities to find work.