Czech Police Detain Suspects in Cheap-Alcohol Deaths

Ban on hard alcohol continues
Wikimedia/Сергей Неманов

The Czech Republic took drastic measures Friday and banned sales of hard liquor across the country after at least 20 people died from drinking cheap spirits laced with methanol. But Sunday deputy police chief Vaclav Kucera announced that 22 people have been detained regarding the contaminated drinks.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the poisoned alcohol was sold at a discount in bottles with fake labels calling it vodka or tuzemak. More than 30 people were hospitalized in the last two weeks in serious condition after consuming it, and several people went blind.

The sale and service of any domestic and imported spirits with more than 20-percent alcohol content is still “prohibited until the recalling of this extraordinary measure,” according to the government’s website.

The alcohol ban threatens to have serious economic consequences, as the government collects about $40 million a month in taxes from hard liquor sales, according to deputy finance minister Ladislav Mincic, who said “it would be a challenge for the government” if the restriction had to go on for a long time.

According to Kucera, the suspects face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.