The Kratie provincial court on Monday put a rice wine brewer in pre-trial detention after he had allegedly caused the death of at least five villagers in Sambo district’s Koh Khnhae commune.
Court spokesman Chea Sopheak said Koch Sok Heng, from Boeung Cha commune’s Dam Rae village, had been charged with “manslaughter” under Article 207 of the Criminal Code.
“The suspect is being detained at the provincial prison awaiting trial,” he said.
At least five people died and 40 others were hospitalised after they drank rice wine served at a funeral reception on October 18 in Koh Khnhae commune.
The victims suffered fatigue, headache, diarrhoea and dizziness and vomited after consuming the wine. Police said the rice wine was bought from Sok Heng in Boeung Cha commune.
If convicted, Sok Heng faces a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to six million riel ($1,500).
Kratie provincial health department director Chhneang Sovutha said rice wine containing high levels of methanol could seriously harm consumers and cause death.
“Based on the patients’ conditions, the rice wine possibly contained an overly high methanol level that could harm consumers and cause death if they drank too much of it,” he said.
Sovutha said the sale of rice wine had been banned in the province’s Sombo district pending further investigation.
In May, toxic rice wine killed 14 people and made dozens of others sick in the province’s Kantuot commune, Chet Borey district.