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Court upholds 13 years in prison for bootleg mafia boss

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Olomouc, North Moravia, June 8 (CTK) – The appeals High Court in Olomouc upheld a 13-year prison sentence and property forfeiture given to Czech bootleg mafia boss Radek Brezina for extensive illegal trading in alcohol today.

The appeals court increased the prison term meted out to his brother and close aide, Tomas Brezina, by two years to six years behind bars. He was also sentenced to property forfeiture.

The court also upheld the sentences for the other three defendants.

The prison term given to Radek Mensik, executive of Brezina’s Moravia-Chem company, was lowered by one to 11 years.

The court returned the case of real estate administrator Ivan Kovarik and Tomas Pantlik to the regional court.

The High Court at the same time lowered the originally calculated damage caused by excise tax evasion from 6.3 to 5.6 billion crowns.

According to the verdict, Vaclav David, who transported illegal alcohol to storehouses, and his former close aide Lubomir Kalac will definitively spend nine years and two months in prison each.

The state attorney proposed an up to three-year lower sentence for Kalac since he was the first to start testifying in the case. However, the court did not meet the proposal.

The court also upheld a six-year prison term given to warehouseman Rostislav Hanulik.

The six defendants were members of an organised criminal group, the court concluded.

The cases of Mensik, who was sentenced to nine years and two months, and of Pantlik, given a suspended sentence for favouring an organised criminal group, will return to the regional court.

According to the indictment, the bootleg alcohol mafia was trading in illegal spirits in 2004-2013. The alcohol, which was not denatured, was hidden in underground tanks in the complex Moravia-Chem owned secretly by Brezina. They transported it directly to suppliers by lorries or to secret storage facilities, mainly in north Moravia.

The court put the amount of the bootleg alcohol at 20.8 million litres. The group used specially modified mobile phones for conspiracy and to avoid customs checks as well as elaborate caches.

The police started focusing on the alcohol mafia after the methanol scandal that broke out in autumn 2012. More than 40 people died of methanol poisoning after drinking illegal tainted spirits and dozens suffered from serious health troubles.

The police organised several raids, seized a few million litres of untaxed ethanol and detained tens of suspected people of dealing with bootleg spirits.

($1=23.459 crowns)

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