Death toll from bootleg alcohol rises to 19 as police detain 21 suspects
ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse
DHA PhotoThe death toll in Istanbul from consuming counterfeit alcohol has risen to 19 after six more people died in the hospital over the past two days.
The victims had all consumed rakı, a strong aniseed-flavored liquor, which health authorities believe had been infused with lethal quantities of methyl alcohol.
Another 15 are in critical condition in the hospital in Istanbul after drinking the tainted alcohol, the state-run Anadolu Agency has said.
Police have detained 21 people, including producers, suppliers, and sellers, while seizing thousands of bottles in several operations across the country, Doğan News Agency stated.
The suspects have been charged with homicide with possible intent.
A total of 89 people have been admitted to hospitals for alcohol poisoning since Oct. 18.
In 2005, 22 people died in Turkey from drinking illicit rakı.
One of those poisoned in the latest incident, Serkan Okansoy, called on the government to lower the price of rakı to prevent similar future incidents. “Please, make rakı a bit cheaper. Fake rakı is 5 Turkish Liras, while [normal] rakı the size of a bottle of pop is 38 liras. Everyone is forced to buy this,” he said.
Distributors at the time blamed successive tax hikes on alcohol, which critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan say are part of a bid to impose conservative Islamic restrictions on society.