published: 14.01.2014, 13:56 | updated: 14.01.2014 14:24:37
Brno - The consequences of the Czech methanol case can be compared to a local war conflict in view of the four dozen lives it has claimed, state attorney Jan Sladky said at a press conference today at which he informed about the filing of criminal charges within the case on Friday.
The case involving tainted spirits broke out in September 2012.
In late 2012 alone, it claimed 38 victims of methanol poisoning, including 13 women, who died after drinking illegally produced spirits, the state attorney in charge of the case, Roman Kafka, said previously.
A total of 31 people, including two women, will be prosecuted in the main proceedings related to the trafficking in poisonous spirits, Sladky, Kafka´s superior, said today.
Seven of the suspects face high prison sentences and even a life sentence if charged with deliberate endangering the safety of the public, including the two men who mixed the lethal bootleg spirits, Rudolf Fian and Tomas Krepela, and the alleged main distributor Jiri Vacula.
The three are staying in custody, the other four have been prosecuted at liberty.
The rest of the suspects, among whom businessmen prevail, have been charged with endangering people's health with contaminated alcohol.
The main producers of the lethal mixture worked in a company producing antifreeze mixtures for cars.
Some others earned their living by selling legal alcohol and wanted to improve their income by trafficking in untaxed alcohol, while others were formally employed but illegally profited from the illegal alcohol market.
"All of them traded in alcohol of an unreliable origin. They acquired it from dubious sources without verifying whether it was harmless to health. They must have known that the alcohol they acquired in this way and spread uncontrolled may be harmful to human health," Kafka said.
The case will be dealt with by the Zlin branch of the regional court of Brno.
Radomir Koudela, the judge in charge of it, said he would launch the main proceedings in a few months,
Apart from the 38 intentionally killed victims, the police register 79 people who managed to survive the poisoning and whose health was sometimes damaged in late 2012.
The youngest victim was a 21-year-old girl.
The lethal bootleg alcohol, only a part of which was sold, could have killed up to 158,000 people, Kafka said today.
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