Czech to ease ban on spirits


Two men drink alcohol from bottles on a street in Prague on September 12, 2012. At least 14 people have died and more than 20 have been hospitalised in the Czech Republic after drinking spirits apparently tainted with methanol, Czech officials said. 'The last figure I've heard was 14, but the numbers... must be taken with caution as it takes two or three days to confirm the cause of death by autopsy,' Health Minister Leos Heger told reporters.


Michal Cizek

The Czech prime minister said his government will ease a ban on the sale of spirits that was put into place because of methanol poisoning that killed 26 people.

Prime Minister Petr Necas said hard liquor produced before January 1 is now considered safe and can be sold as of Thursday, reported the Associated Press. He said any other alcohol needs to have a certificate of origin. Newly produced spirits need fresh government stamps.

The government banned the sale of hard liquor on September 14 as police tried to find the source behind the spread of deadly bootleg booze, according to Reuters. Police are still searching for up to 15,000 liters of liquor containing methanol.

More from GlobalPost: Bootlegged alcohol kills at least 14 in Czech Republic

"This does not mean that everybody should charge into all the bars and start drinking everything they come across. The risk is still here," Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl told Reuters.

On September 24, police said they found the source of the methyl-alcohol that had been laced into liquor, reported Businessweek. Two men have been charged with public endangerment and face up to 20 years in jail. Prosecutors may also seek an "exceptional punishment," according to state prosecutor Roman Kafka, since the men intentionally handed out the deadly mixture.