The chairman of a Taiwanese “gutter oil” company tried to kill himself on Thursday night, a day after his appeal against a 22-year prison sentence over the scandal was rejected.
Yeh Wen-hsiang, 62, is said to have drunk detergent in a suicide attempt, but members of his family found what he had done in time and rushed him to hospital, Apple Daily in Taiwan reports.
Police said Yeh’s life was not in danger but he suffered chemical burns in his throat.
Yeh is chairman of Chang Guann, an edible oil manufacturer that was accused of selling gutter oil –oil recycled from used oil, slaughterhouse waste and grease traps – and passing it off as genuine edible oil.
The Pingtung District Prosecutors Office will try to determine Yeh’s physical condition before deciding when Yeh can start serving his jail term.
Chang Guann, which is based in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, was found in 2014 to have sold waste oil to bakeries and restaurants in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and South Asian countries.
The scandal raised much concern in Hong Kong as it was learned that the city had been importing large amounts of Chang Guann’s products.
The Pingtung District Court convicted Yeh of aggravated fraud and counterfeiting food products in 2015 and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, the most serious penalty handed down on the island for food safety violations.
Last year Yeh filed an appeal with the High Court, which increased his sentence to 22 years in prison, with five years commutable to a fine, before he took his case to Taiwan’s Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court refused to reconsider the case on Wednesday, meaning he should be put in jail two to three weeks later.
In a letter allegedly written by Yeh and acquired by Apple Daily in Taiwan, he said will definitely die in jail since he is already in his 60s.
He also claimed in the letter that he had never sold tainted oil products on purpose but only had failed to supervise the firm’s operation properly.
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