Bootleg alcohol death toll rises to eight in İzmir

Bootleg alcohol death toll rises to eight in İzmir

İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
Bootleg alcohol death toll rises to eight in İzmir

Police increase inspections on shops selling alcoholic beverages after bootleg alcohol kills eight in İzmir. DHA Photo

The number of people who have died from bootleg alcohol poisoning in Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir has risen to eight.

The eight people who have died so far from counterfeit rakı in İzmir were identified as Seçgin Dengiz, Ali Ulutürk, Alem Pena Çandar, Ömer Akgün Yüngeliş, Özkan Yaman, Köksal Çetin, Birol Bacaklı and Cesur Artan.

Artan, 53, was on trial on charges” of “causing death” of another victim at the time of his death, after he gave one of his friends a counterfeit version of rakı, an anise-based alcoholic drink popular in Turkey.

Dengiz, 49, is the latest victim to die in the bootleg alcohol scandal in İzmir and was being treated at the Katip Çelebi University Medical School Hospital before his death. His body has been taken to the İzmir Forensic Institute for medical examination.

Meanwhile, two more men have been taken to hospital over suspected bootleg alcohol poisoning. They are reportedly being treated at the Ege University Medical School Hospital in İzmir.

The latest deaths come less than a week after a couple running a market were arrested in İzmir, accused of selling counterfeit rakı. Police also seized four liters of bootleg rakı from the market at the time of the couple’s detention. 

A number of deaths have also occurred in Istanbul in recent months as a result of bootleg alcohol.

A friend of one of the bootleg rakı victims said rising prices were encouraging bootleg alcohol consumption. 

Mehmet Yılmaz Durgun, a housemate of Ömer Akgün Yüngeliş, said he would continue to drink illicit alcohol despite the risks, as he said cannot afford the original. 

“Labelled rakı is very expensive. It costs 50 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 that they are part of a bid to impose conservative Islamic restrictions on Turkish society.