A nursery teacher was sentenced to death on Monday for poisoning 25 kindergarten pupils in March 2019, resulting in one fatality. Wang Yun was arrested when the children at the Jiaozuo kindergarten were rushed to the hospital soon after they had eaten their morning porridge. The court found Wang guilty of lacing the breakfast porridge with sodium nitrite.
The children began vomiting and fainting soon after they ate their breakfast provided by the school. This triggered authorities to suspect the teacher had poisoned them.
A statement from the local court said, Wang had earlier purchased the nitrite online and mixed it into the porridge intended for the students of another teacher. This she said, was in revenge over an argument they had regarding student management issues.
One of the poisoned students had died in January after spending 10 months confined in the hospital while the rest suffered minor injuries.
The Jiaozuo Intermediate People's Court in Henan province described Wang's actions as "despicable" and "vicious" and stated that "she should be punished severely in accordance with the law," the ruling said.
This was not the first time Wang was found to have poisoned people. In February 2017, she poisoned her own husband after an argument using the same chemical. Her husband suffered minor injuries, BBC reported.
Sodium nitrite is a food additive often used for curing meat. However, if consumed in high amounts this can be toxic and fatal. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention labels nitrite as a likely carcinogen also used in fertilisers, munitions and explosives. When exposed to high doses, this can stop the body from absorbing oxygen.
The court sentenced Wang to death by which can be carried out either through lethal injection or firing squad. While China still refuses to disclose the actual number of executions it has meted out, many human rights groups are convinced the government executes thousands each year.
Statistics show that school children in China seem to be a common target by people bearing grudges or those suffering from mental illness. Most often these attacks result in death. In 2002, more than 40 school children died in the eastern city of Nanjing when a jealous business rival laced school-provided snacks with rat poison.