Death toll in İzmir bootleg booze scandal rises to 11
İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoThe number of people who have died after drinking bootleg alcohol in the Aegean province of İzmir has risen to 11, as three people hospitalized because of bootleg alcohol poisoning could not be saved.
The latest death was that of Hasan Kutlu, 63, who was hospitalized in İzmir’s Buca district due to alcohol poisoning on Nov. 30, died early on Dec. 3 in the Ege University Medical School Hospital where he had been treated.
Kutlu’s body has been taken to the İzmir Forensic Institute for medical examination. The police are reported to be searching for one man in the area who is suspected of illicitly producing the alcohol that killed him.
Kutlu’s death came a day after two other people, identified as Gürkan Tapınç and Cemil Şipka, who had been hospitalized over bootleg alcohol poisoning in İzmir, died on Dec. 2, bringing the total death toll in the scandal in İzmir to 11.
The victims killed by bootleg alcohol in İzmir are Ali Ulutürk, Alem Pena Çandar, Ömer Akgün Yüngeliş, Özkan Yaman, Köksal Çetin, Birol Bacaklı, Cesur Artan, Seçgin Dengiz, Gürkan Tapınç, Cemil, and Hasan Kutlu.
A number of deaths have also occurred in Istanbul over the past few months as a result of bootleg alcohol.
The scandal erupted in late October, as news surfaced that dozens of people had died from drinking counterfeit rakı, a Turkish liquor made of anise.
A friend of the victim Yüngeliş said rising prices were encouraging bootleg alcohol consumption.
Mehmet Yılmaz Durgun, Yüngeliş’s flat mate, said he would continue to drink illicit alcohol despite the risks, as he said he could not afford legally produced alcohol.
“Labelled rakı is very expensive. It costs 50 [Turkish] Liras while bootleg rakı costs 10 liras. I have been drinking illicit rakı for four years. The high prices of alcohol force people into buying these bootleg drinks,” Durgun said.
“I will drink it again because I only earn 50 liras a day. I can’t buy a bottle of rakı with that,” he added.
Tax hikes on alcohol over recent years have been slammed by alcohol distributors and critics of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) alike, with many claiming they are part of a bid to impose conservative Islamic restrictions on Turkish society.