Life sentences for toxic Czech alcohol producers

22nd May, 2014 by Melita Kiely

Two men convicted of producing poisonous alcohol that killed more than 30 people in 2012 have been sentenced to life in prison by a court in the Czech Republic.

Czech Spirits

The Czech Republic issued a temporary ban on sales of alcohol mover 20% abc in 2012

Rudolf Fian, 43, and Tomas Krepela, 39, were found guilty of mixing 5,000 litres of methanol – often used as antifreeze in car engines – with 5,000 litres of, which they sold from September 2012.

Eight other men involved in distributing the bootleg alcohol were also found guilty and sentenced to prison terms from eight to 21 years.

The verdicts cover he deaths of 38 citizens, but others have died since and many more have been left permanently blind.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these were the sternest penalties given for public endangerment in the Czech Republic’s history since the fall of Communism in 1989.

“The defendants clearly knew that by doing so they could seriously injure or even kill many people,” said Radomir Koudela, head judge of the regional court of Zlin, Czech Republic.

In September 2012, the Czech Republic declared a partial prohibition banning the sales of spirits over 20% abv after the death toll of those who had consumed the methanol-laced counterfeit alcohol reached 19.

Later that month, the country banned the export of all spirits by which point the number of deaths had climbed to 23. Slovakia and Poland also issued a ban on imports from the Czech Republic.

The blanket ban was described as “dangerous” and “counter productive” by the by the European Spirits Organisation (CEPS).

CEPS claimed that while the Czech government is losing 25million koruna (US$1.32m) per day on lost excise duty, the cost to legitimate spirits producers could be “devastating”.

Counterfeit alcohol products have long been a problem all over the world. Earlier this month poisonous counterfeit alcohol killed 14 people in Russia and hospitalised 11 more, while last October more than 40 people in India were killed.

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