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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Toxic alcohol gang jailed in Iran
File photo of street scene in Shiraz
Jews and Christians in Shiraz may drink, but Muslims face punishment
An Iranian man has been jailed for three years for organising the distribution of toxic alcohol that led to the deaths of more than 20 people.

He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in "blood money" to the families of 14 people who died and pressed charges against him.

The spirits, contaminated with methanol, led to a medical crisis in the city of Shiraz in June.

Another 15 people were also jailed over the deaths and given 154 lashes each.

Dozens of people were admitted to hospital in Shiraz after drinking the locally-made alcohol.

Several of them were also blinded.

Alcohol ban

The ringleader was identified in court only by his initials CF.

Although Shiraz has given its name to one of the world's best-known wine grapes, the sale of alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Alcohol consumption by Muslims is subject to punishment by imprisonment, fines or lashes, although Christians and Jews are allowed to drink in private.

In practice, correspondents say, there is a thriving trade in locally made or smuggled alcohol, with the temptation for unscrupulous or ignorant dealers to make more money by adulterating their products.

Toxic alcohol kills 17 Iranians
14 Jun 04  |  Middle East


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