The prime minister has promised to introduce stricter control over methanol imports to the Czech Republic and has said the government would consider levying a higher tax on it. Methanol is not produced in the country and is only imported for industrial use. Prime Minister Necas said that moreover there was a suitable locally-made substitute for it. Investigators confirmed on Tuesday that the methanol which was mixed into bootleg liquor was imported.
The police have made a breakthrough in the investigation of methanol poisonings that have claimed 25 lives in the Czech Republic over the past few weeks. Detectives have arrested two men who they suspect of having produced a deadly mix consisting of methanol and other ingredients which they released into an illegal distribution network. The police said the men did not want to kill anyone but rather made a fatal mistake in producing the mix.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek announced on Monday that the ministry is prepared to change or delay tax advances for alcohol producers who have been negatively affected by the ban on hard liquor. A ban on the sale of alcohol with 20 or more percent alcohol content was instituted on 14 September, and a ban on exports six days later. The government is currently preparing necessary measures to allow newly produced alcohol to enter onto the market again.
A 55-year-old man died of methanol poisoning in the north Moravian town of Havířov on Monday. The man was admitted to hospital on 3 September in critical condition. He is the 25th victim of the recent outbreak of methanol poisonings, and the 15th in the Moravia-Silesian region. In the meantime, a hospital in the nearby city of Ostrava admitted yet another methanol patient, in serious, but not critical condition. The patient was administered the Norwegian antidote drug Fomepizol.
Criminal police have cracked down on a gang of methamphetamine producers and marihuana growers in southern Moravia in the past few days. The police announced Monday they have ten suspects and six are already under prosecution. The main suspects were arrested in mid-September. Two methamphetamine labs and over 60 marihuana plants were discovered during raids. This is one of the largest drug operations uncovered in the region in the past decade. According to investigators, the drug producers were legally purchasing the medicine to produce the methamphetamine in the Polish city of Kladsko.
The police have arrested and charged two men who knowingly distributed a methanol mixture that caused poisonings of at least 67 people in the Czech Republic, Police President Martin Červíček and state prosecutor Roman Kafka announced Monday at a press conference. The main suspect – a forty-two year-old man from Ostrava - made a full confession on Friday night saying that he and his accomplice prepared a lethal methanol and ethanol mixture that they then distributed through a middleman to liquor producers. According to Mr Kafka, the main motivation for his actions was financial gain. Police President Červíček warned that 15,000 liters of noxious methanol-laced alcohol had entered distribution, but not all of it has been accounted for yet. Charges have been brought against 42 people in connection to the distribution of methanol-laced liquor, which has killed 25 people in the Czech Republic. Twenty two of them are currently in jail.
Jan Becher, the country’s third largest spirits maker, on Sunday began producing a “prohibition version” of its Lemond liqueur. The new variety contains 19 percent alcohol which means it is not be covered by the government’s ban on sales of spirits with 20 or more percent of alcohol. The company’s production manager said the citrus-flavoured beverage should be available in most supermarkets on Tuesday. The government-imposed ban on the sales of hard liquor is widely expected to be at least partially lifted next week.
The police have uncovered the entire distribution network of
methanol-laced bootleg liquor, the head of Czech police, Martin
Červíček, told Czech TV on Sunday. The police chief said investigators
were now only following one version of what happened but shared no further
details as it might interfere with ongoing investigation, he said. The
police are planning to release more information at a new conference on
The methanol crisis has killed 24 people in the Czech Republic over the last several weeks. The police have charged 41 people in connection with methanol poisonings, 17 of whom remain in custody. A breakthrough in the investigation came on Thursday when detectives discovered some 6,000 litres of suspicious liquid in a warehouse in Opava.
The ongoing Czech methanol crisis has claimed its 24th victim when a 57-year-old woman died in the north-eastern town of Havířov on Friday night after two weeks in hospital. Doctors said the woman fell into a coma shortly after she was admitted to hospital on September 6. Another three patients with methanol intoxication remain in hospital in Havířov, one in critical condition.
Czech health workers have registered two new cases of methanol poisoning. An elderly woman was hospitalized in the early hours of Saturday with severe methanol intoxication in Kroměříž in east of the country; her condition is reported as stable. A man was also admitted to hospital in Čáslav, in central Bohemia but the levels of methanol in his blood were lower than toxic, Czech Radio reported. More than 30 people remain in hospitals in connection with the methanol crisis that has claimed 23 victims in the country so far.
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