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Slovakia, Poland lift ban on Czech spirits

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(BRATISLAVA) - Slovakia and Poland Tuesday lifted a ban on the import and sale of alcohol from the Czech Republic, where 28 people had died from methanol-tainted bootleg spirits.

Imposed three weeks ago, the ban will end as of 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) Tuesday, Slovak Agriculture Minister Lubomir Jahnatek told journalists.

Any Czech-made spirits with more than 20 percent of alcohol and produced after January 1 will have to have a certificate of origin, the minister added.

Slovakia has not recorded any deaths related to the Czech methanol-tainted spirits.

Four Slovaks had, however, been hospitalised after consuming tainted Czech liquor which they had ordered over the Internet. All recovered and were released.

On Tuesday, fellow EU member Poland also dropped the ban on Czech liquor with over 20 percent alcohol content which had been in effect since September 16.No deaths caused by the tainted liquor were reported there.

Czech police said last month they had arrested two suspected masterminds of a bootlegging operation who are alleged to have deliberately concocted a lethal mixture of methanol and ethanol for public consumption and released it to the Czech market.

They face maximum life sentences if found guilty as charged.

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