A man suspected of manufacturing tainted rice wine that has claimed the lives of 15 people in Kampong Chhnang told police he made the brew stronger due to customer demands and was unaware it could have a lethal affect, police said yesterday.
Than Vy, 48, has been in police custody since Thursday after police and health authorities began to link several deaths since November to the fatal brew. Kampong Chhnang deputy police chief Chun Tharith said Vy confessed to mixing the initial runoff from the wine-making process – which was more potent and, in this case, toxic – with the rest of the wine to lift its alcohol content.
“He said he had mixed the wine, but he said that the buyers wanted strong wine and that was why he made it strong . . . he did know it could cause death,” Tharith said.
Tharith said Vy had been sent to court, but Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court spokesman Long Sitha said the prosecutor had decided to detain him at the police station and no charges had yet been laid. Morm Malai, deputy chief of the provincial health department, said of the eight rice wine samples tested, three were found to have high methanol content.