Sellers of deadly methanol ‘rum’ jailed

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Havana - A Cuban court sentenced 13 people to up to 30 years in jail for selling methyl alcohol as rum - causing 11 deaths last year - the state-run Granma newspaper said Wednesday.

Around 60 liters of methyl alcohol - or methanol - were stolen in July 2013 from the University of Havana's pharmacy department by two security guards.

The guards then passed the potent alcohol - typically used as antifreeze or fuel, or for chemical reactions in laboratories - to others who sold it as rum.

Around 100 people drank enough of the methanol to become intoxicated, and 11 died.

High alcohol prices in the Communist-run nation have prompted a number of Cubans to turn to the black market.

The two security guards, Ramon Hernandez Argudin and Augusto Cesar Valdes Alonso, were sentenced to 30 and 27 years in prison respectively, for violent theft, negligent homicide and causing serious injury, Granma said.

An accomplice was sentenced to six years and 10 others were sentenced from six months to five years for handling stolen goods.

The dean of the pharmacy institute was fired and three other university employees were dismissed from their duties for negligence, the newspaper added.


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