Serbian brandy: 43 dead

A district court in central Serbia upheld on Monday an earlier 15-year prison sentence against a home alcohol brewer who in 1998 sold brandy which is believed to have killed 43 persons.

The sentence against the brewer, Miroslav Zivadinovic, was earlier overturned following defense lawyer's appeal and Serbia's Supreme Court ordered the retrial.

On Monday, the court in Nis, about 180 kilometers southeast of Belgrade, sentenced Zivadinovic to 15 years in prison for "endangering public safety in producing alcohol contaminated with great quantities of poisonous methyl alcohol."

Two of his accomplices were handed prison sentences of nine and one and a half years for illegal sale of the toxic liquor.

In January 1998, Zivadinovic's brandy poisoned 56 people, of whom 43 died. He was arrested the following month and sentenced later that year.

Zivadinovic had marketed his produce as "homemade grape brandy" which he sold in several Serbian towns with his accomplices.

He told the court he "regretted the deaths" caused by his liqueur which he "believed to be safe."

Cases of liquor poisoning are common in Serbia. To increase potency and quantity, cheap homemade brew is sometimes mixed with methyl alcohol, which can cause blindness or death, the AP reports.


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