Police charge two top distributors of methanol-laced liquor
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.
“In late August and early September, the two men produced a mixture of methanol and alcohol in a very large quantity which they intentionally released into distribution.
“They did so even though they knew that the substance would be mixed with alcohol and further distributed. Given their professional background and the fact that they knew what they were producing, they were aware that other people’s lives and health could be at risk, which indeed happened.”
At the end of August, the men legally purchased 15 tons of methanol. They mixed that with industrial ethanol, thinking this would neutralize the lethal effects of methanol. But they miscalculated the ratio and instead of a coarse and relatively safe beverage, they produced a mix that killed 25 people and poisoned dozens of others.
Prosecutor Roman Kafka said the accomplice suffered a mental breakdown and was fully cooperating with the investigators.
“This person began to cooperate and we have his full confession including the description of what took place, his motivation and the description of the basic distribution network.”
The two men behind the ongoing methanol crisis have been charged with posing a threat to public safety, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years or even an exceptional sentence of life imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the Czech government is considering easing the ban on spirits sales although it’s now yet clear how legitimately produced liquor will be distinguished from potentially dangerous spirits that are already on the market.