18. 09. 12. - 12:45
Czech bootleg booze prove widened to Austria
Austrian consumer protection officials have warned tourists that have visited the Czech Republic against drinking any alcohol they may have purchased there after 21 died and many others were left blind from bootleg booze.
Austrian Consumer Rights spokesman Josef Leitner (SPÖ) said that the health ministry had warned even alcohol in brand name bottles from the country might still be contaminated with methanol and he warned against drinking it.
Czech officials have already banned all spirit sales in the country after it was revealed that the final death toll could be over a hundred - with many others left blind.
Chains such as Tesco, Billa and Kaufland said they had employees working night shifts at the weekend in order to comply with the government ban as detectives admit they have still not identified the source of the bootleg booze.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority said alcohol stronger than 20 percent does not have to be taken off the shelves, but must be covered from view, and blocked in the cashier systems by all retailers.
The home-made brandy had initially been sold from markets in the eastern Czech city of Havirov and was contaminated by methanol, which is extremely toxic to humans.
Police alerted by local hospital staff raided the market and seized several barrels of the home made brandy - and have since raided several warehouses and arrested 19 people - with 13 charged.
Local police spokesperson Miroslav Kolatek said: "Because of its similarities in both appearance and odour to ethanol which is the alcohol usually found in legal alcoholic beverages it is difficult to differentiate between the two."
But in addition to the recent deaths, doctors in Ostrava have found out that a 73-year-old woman, who died in the north-eastern town of Havirov in May, was also killed by bootleg alcohol contaminated with methanol.
They have now reopened investigations into 150 deaths that may have been connected to the sale of the illegal alcohol - the head of the Ostrava hospital’s forensic department has announced.
Over half of the market stall bottles seized have been found to be contaminated with methanol. With as little as 0.4 fl oz capable of causing permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 1.5 fl oz being potentially fatal.