THE CZECH Court in the city of Zlín has imposed life sentences on Slovak citizen Rudolf Fian and his employer Tomáš Křepela for having caused the deaths of 50 people and ruined the health of dozens more who were poisoned after drinking alcohol containing the toxic substance methanol.

The court has sentenced a total of 10 people in the case, the Sme daily wrote on May 22. The main distributor of the alcohol, Jiří Vacula, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He avoided harsher punishment because he helped the police in solving the case.

One of the victims was a bus driver identified only as Zdeněk who survived the poisoning, but is nearly blind and partially paralysed, according to Sme.

Křepela and Fian mixed the poisonous liquid, while the remaining seven perpetrators involved received prison sentences from eight to 21 years, according to the TASR newswire. Fian mixed 5,000 litres of methyl-alcohol with the same amount of ethanol, while Křepela procured the necessary substances and helped him mix the chemicals. Vacula then distributed 10,000 litres of poisonous alcohol, according to prosecutor Rudolf Kafka.

Kafka proposed life sentences for the main suspects, who are expected to appeal the verdict. If a higher-instance court upholds the verdict, it would be the very first case since the fall of communism that a life sentence was applied for a public threat and not murder.

Fian, in his final plea, argued that there is no clear material evidence, save Vacula’s testimony, that would connect him or Křepela to the methanol. Křepela added that he felt he was innocent and expected a complete acquittal.

The only one of the main perpetrators who expressed regret was Vacula, who added that he did not suspect this supply could be poisonous, as he had previously distributed good-quality alcohol from them before. The remaining seven defendants maintained their innocence but felt sorry for the impacts of the case and apologised to the victims’families.

The case began on September 3, 2012, and claimed 50 lives. The suit involves only the period until the end of 2012, charging the main defendants with 38 deaths and intoxicating 79 others, including those who sustained serious health conditions. The cases of people harmed after January 2013 are being investigated separately, according to TASR.

Source: Sme, TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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