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Three Suspects In Deadly Russian Alcohol Poisoning Detained

A Russian investigator examines a storage facility and production site of counterfeit alcoholic beverages in Orenburg on October 8.
A Russian investigator examines a storage facility and production site of counterfeit alcoholic beverages in Orenburg on October 8.

A court in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg has sent three suspects in a deadly mass alcohol poisoning case to pretrial detention as the death toll in the incident rose to 24.

The Chkalov district court ruled on October 21 that Armen Avetisian, Nadir Mamedov, and Anar Ayvazov must remain in custody until at least December 15.

During the hearing, it was revealed that 24 people died after they consumed the tainted alcohol. Previously, officials had only said there were "about" 18 deaths.

Avetisian, Mamedov, and Ayvazov were arrested last week. One more suspect was apprehended afterward, authorities have said.

The judge at the hearing said that more people might have been involved in the illegal activities that led to the mass poisoning and police in Yekaterinburg said on October 21 they had launched a preliminary investigation into a divisional police inspector whose suspected negligence may have helped lead to the tragedy.

Investigators have focused on the sale of alcohol that had been bottled at a city market and did not meet safety standards.

Investigators are looking into the sale of substandard goods and death by negligence, which could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years, the committee said in a statement.

Several individuals sold "an alcoholic liquid that was dangerous for their health" over the past two weeks in Yekaterinburg, the investigators said.

The incident followed the opening of an inquiry earlier this month into a suspected poisoning linked to illegal alcohol in the neighboring Orenburg region. More than 30 people died after drinking beverages containing methanol, a toxic type of industrial alcohol.

On October 19, authorities in another Urals region, Kurgan, said they had launched a probe into bootleg alcohol poisoning that left three people dead.

Poisonings involving homemade or bootleg alcohol occur regularly in Russia as people seek out cheaper options than store-bought vodka.

In December 2016, 78 people died in and around the Siberian city of Irkutsk after drinking a scented herbal bath lotion that contained methanol.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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