Police Investigate Moonshine Deaths in Bekasi


JANUARY 03, 2015

Jakarta. Three men died in the West Java city of Bekasi on Friday from drinking what police believe to bootleg alcohol.

Two motorcycle taxi drivers, Yanto, 32, and Ki Bagus Suntara, 34,  and truck driver Hermansyah, whose age was not confirmed, died in separate locations on Friday after drinking with friends on Thursday night in East Bekasi.

"The case is still being investigated by East Bekasi police," Bekasi Police spokesman Adj. Cmr. Siswo said on Saturday.

A witness, Hadi Wibowo, told police that he and the victims were drinking alcohol mixed with soda. It was not clear from where the victims had bought the alcohol.

Yanto died on Friday at 2 p.m. while Hermansyah and Ki Bagus Suntara died on the same day at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

"We highly suspect the victims died after consuming bootleg alcohol," Siswo said.

Bootleg alcohol deaths are ubiquitous in Indonesia, but the mixing of methanol with energy supplements is a particularly common practice in parts of Java, where many people keen to drink alcohol are either priced out of the market by high taxes for regulated drinks — or simply prefer to make their own moonshine.

On Dec. 10 two men aged 25 and 32 died in Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah Hospital after drinking methanol mixed with supplement drinks at a wedding party in Bantul, police said.

Another two men died in Klaten in Central Java on Dec. 9. Both men, who were in their 50s, were rushed to Klaten Islamic Hospital after complaining of headaches, vomiting and respiratory difficulty.

At least 16 people died in Garut earlier in December. On the same day in the neighbouring district of Sumedang, 10 people died and several more were left seriously ill after drinking moonshine.