Prosecutors question family members over infant's death

TAIPEI - The parents of a baby who died of sodium overdose were released following a marathon questioning yesterday as investigators in Taipei reportedly suspected that the infant formula was spiked with salt by family members.

Six other family members were also questioned and released, sources with the investigators said.

The parents and family members were interviewed as witnesses, and no charges were filed, the sources said.

Following the interviews, Chief Taipei Prosecutor Yang Chih-yu called a meeting to discuss the case with investigators. Coming out of the meeting, Yang nevertheless declined to say whether there was any breakthrough in their probe.

Neither would he confirm whether the family had taken out any insurance policy on the three-month-old baby.

The family has blamed polluted infant formula for the baby's death.

Tests have shown that there are high levels of sodium in the can of formula that the baby had been fed with, but investigators have ruled out the possibility of pollution during the manufacturing process or poisoning by outsiders, the sources said.

Investigators started interviewing the parents and family members - some of whom live with the baby and some visit frequently - separately Thursday morning, and the last to leave the Taipei City Police Headquarters was the mother at about 2 a.m. yesterday, the sources said.

Prosecutors chose to conduct the interviews at the city police headquarters rather than their own office in order to avoid media exposure, the sources said.

Investigators already searched the family home earlier this week and seized relevant evidence.

The sources said investigators have also been checking the family background and whether any insurance policy is involved.

An autopsy report on the infant death is expected to come out next week, the sources said.

The baby died on Nov. 15 of kidney failure resulting from hypernatremia, a condition caused by high levels of sodium in the blood.