Czech Republic partly lifts ban on sale of hard liquor

A partial easing of the Czech Republic’s ban on the sale of hard liquor made in the country comes into effect on September 27 2012.

A full ban on the sale of spirits with more than 20 per cent alcohol was imposed on September 14 after it emerged that bootleg drinks containing methanol had been distributed on the market, leading to the deaths of 26 people and many people being admitted to hospital, some with loss of sight. The ban was later extended to a ban on exports, while Slovakia, Poland and Russia stopped imports of Czech hard liquor.

A number of people are under arrest, two for being behind the manufacture of the poisonous mixture that got into the distribution chain, several others for distributing and selling hard liquor in spite of the ban.

Police are continuing to investigate the case, with not all the toxic drinks having been found. Nor have all of those involved in the bootlegging scheme been identified.

The Czech cabinet agreed on September 26 to allow the sale of hard liquor made before January 1 2012.

Hard liquor manufactured between January 1 and September 26 2012 will have to have its origin documented within 60 days and if this is not done, it must be destroyed, the cabinet ruled.

The documentation certifying the hard liquor must come from an accredited laboratory, according to an announcement on the website of the Czech government.

The finance ministry was instructed by the government to prepare a draft measure to ease the plight of alcohol producers, hard-hit by the ban. The measure will involve refunds of excise and value-added tax.. Already, losses incurred by drinks producers are estimated to run into millions of euro.

Agriculture minister Petr Bendl said that the easing of the ban “does not mean that now everyone will storm pubs and start drinking everything that is at hand. The risk is still there,” Czech news agency CTK reported him as saying.

Consultations will be held with the European Union about the resumption of exports.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian/



The Sofia Globe staff

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