Bereaved Remedia Parents Furious at Sidestep Attempt

Parents of children who died five years ago in the Remedia baby formula scandal reacted angrily yesterday to the news that the Health Ministry is promoting a private member's bill, sponsored by Aryeh Eldad (National Union), which would give immunity from prosecution to civil servants who are negligent in their regulatory responsibilities.

The bill could lead to the withdrawal of indictments against five ministry employees in the Remedia case.

Remedia marketed a defective formula made by German manufacturer Humana.

It was found to lack B1, a vitamin essential for growth. Three children died.

Eli Olonovsky, whose son Guy failed to thrive on the formula and died, said all of the eight accused in the case must stand trial.

An immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Olonovsky asked: "What is this? Are we a communist country without laws? My heart aches over [the fact that] our country is descending to be like those places. My wife and I have discussed this, and it hurts so much we are thinking of leaving the country."

He added: "I raised children here. [I have a son who] served in the army. My daughter served in the army, and my [other] son here died."

Olonovsky asked: "Why do we need civil servants? They do what they want and they say 'So, I screwed up?'"

A screw-up, he said, can kill, spread disease, introduce a poison into the country.

He added: "Tomorrow a policeman will start shooting in the street because he spotted a suspect and then he won't be tried for negligently discharging a bullet that killed somebody?"

Michal Zisser, whose son Avishai died after being fed the defective Remedia formula, called the bill a case of "state bankruptcy."

She said: "This is the first time that I am boiling," adding: "It's beyond hurt already. It's true rage."

She said she was shocked that a Knesset member [Aryeh Eldad] who is a physician by profession proposed this.

"Where is his responsibility in this matter?" she added.

Eldad conceded this week that the law was "problematic," and that "in perfect world, we would want to be in a place where every person, certainly a public servant, is responsible for his actions."

However, he added, "any legislative action could impair some legal proceeding."

Zisser said: "Remedia shifts the blame to the Health Ministry, and the ministry [shifts it back] to Remedia. Soon the notion will arise that Remedia, too, is not guilty.... I knew there would be all kinds of surprises in the court case, but I can't grasp a thing like this."