Officials punished for the 2004 Anhui province milk powder scandal that killed 12 infants and left more than 200 permanently affected have returned to key government positions, a mainland legal publication reports. The Law and News legal magazine reported yesterday that officials who were disciplined or sacked over the scandal had returned to jobs in the public service and had performed well after 'learning lessons'. In 2004, 229 babies, most from poverty-stricken rural areas in Fuyang , were found to be malnourished and many developed swollen heads after consuming substandard milk powder produced by small businesses. Authorities later blacklisted 45 milk powder producers. The Ministry of Supervision said nine officials had been disciplined or sacked, including Fuyang mayor Liu Qingqiang and officials from the municipal bureaus on industry administration, food safety and market inspection. The magazine said Mr Liu was transferred a year later to head Anhui's Environmental Protection Bureau. Zhou Yisheng , the former director of the Fuyang Industry and Commerce Administration Bureau, was sacked in June 2004, but the report said he was later given a job in the provincial industry and commerce administration. Yang Wei , former deputy chief of the commerce bureau, was transferred to a position of the same level in another Anhui city. Ding Liling , deputy director of the Fuyang Health Bureau, was appointed deputy chief of another municipal government bureau in the city. The officials were described as 'capable and low profile', and as having learned a big lesson from the scandal. The story was picked up by many portal websites and ignited debate among a public still reeling from the melamine milk powder contamination scandal that broke in September. Six children died and more than 290,000 others were made ill from contaminated infant formula made by the Sanlu dairy company and other firms. Beijing rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said there were many cases of senior officials being sacked over big scandals and public safety incidents, only for them to be 'reappointed to other important positions without really paying much of a price'. 'In the Fuyang case, these sacked officials are definitely not the only ones who should be held accountable, and some officials might be sacked as scapegoats to shoulder the responsibility for the government,' he said. 'Some of them might indeed have been very capable and might not be the real guilty persons.' Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications law lecturer Xu Zhiyong , who is helping parents of children affected by the melamine milk scandal pursue compensation through the legal system, said he was more concerned about whether the Anhui victims had received compensation.