Fingers can be pointed at Clinton, Arkansas, Arkansas prison system, USA, Canadian Government, Canadian Red Cross and probably some others.
TORONTO (Reuters) - Victims of Canada's tainted blood scandal had a chance to air their stories in an Ontario court on Thursday as the Canadian Red Cross was formally sentenced for distributing blood products contaminated by donors who suffered from HIV and hepatitis C.
A court in Hamilton, Ontario, handed the agency the maximum fine of C$5,000 ($4,065) for violating the Food and Drugs Act. It has already provided C$70 million in compensation to more than 10,000 victims and Canadian governments agreed in 1998 on a C$1.1 billion compensation plan.
The Red Cross was sentenced after nine people read victim-impact statements in a hearing that spanned 3-1/2 hours.
"They talked about how devastating the disease is to them," said John Plater, a lawyer and member of the Canadian Hemophilia Society, who was also made ill by the tainted blood. "But they also talked about how devastating and how frustrating (it was) trying to get answers and bring these people to account and how many years it has taken.
"That really struck a chord with me ... the wasted time."
About 1,000 Canadians were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS in the 1980s before the Red Cross began testing blood donations. An estimated 20,000 people have been infected with hepatitis C, a debilitating and often deadly liver disease.
The Red Cross pleaded guilty in May to violating the country's Food and Drugs Act -- the first time the charity admitted it broke the law.