Bootleg booze kills three more in İzmir, police detain five suspects

Bootleg booze kills three more in İzmir, police detain five suspects

İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
Bootleg booze kills three more in İzmir, police detain five suspects

DHA Photo

Turkey’s counterfeit rakı crisis has continued to take lives, with three people killed in İzmir and at least seven others poisoned by bootleg booze. Police, meanwhile, have detained five people suspected of selling and producing the bootleg alcohol. 

Ten people recently checked into hospitals in the Aegean province of İzmir complaining of headaches, stomachaches and fainting, which health authorities believe are a result of drinking potentially lethal methyl alcohol. 

Three of the patients passed away on Nov. 24 and 25, while seven others are still being treated. Reports indicate that all victims consumed counterfeit rakı, a strong aniseed-flavored alcoholic drink popular in Turkey. 

Police launched an investigation following reports of alcohol poisoning and determined that the victims purchased bootleg alcohol from a market in İzmir’s Betonyol district. 

A couple running the market were detained by police on suspicion of selling counterfeit alcohol. Police also seized four liters of bootleg rakı during a search inside the store.

Police are reportedly continuing to search for one more suspect, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, adding that a total of five suspects have been detained in İzmir so far. 

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

A friend of the late Ömer Akgün Yüngeliş, who died as a result of drinking illicit rakı, said rising prices were encouraging bootleg alcohol consumption. 

Mehmet Yılmaz Durgun, a flatmate of Yüngeliş, said he would continue to drink illicit alcohol despite the dangers, as he cannot afford the original. 

“Labelled rakı is very expensive. It costs 50 liras while bootleg rakı costs 10 liras. I have been consuming 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.