12 Indonesians die, 4 others hospitalised after drinking bootleg alcohol

JAKARTA (AFP) - Twelve Indonesian men have died after drinking bootleg liquor, the police said on Tuesday (May 17), the latest deaths in the Muslim-majority country caused by homemade alcohol.

The victims died in Bantul district in the main island of Java in recent days, said local police spokesman Anny Pudjiastuti. Four other people are in hospital after drinking the liquor, she added.

A man suspected of selling the alcohol has been arrested in Bantul, which is in Central Java, and 81 bottles of liquor confiscated.

"The suspect could be charged with causing death and could be jailed for 15 to 20 years," said Ms Pudjiastuti.

The police said they were still investigating what the bootleg liquor contained.

There have been several cases in recent years of people dying after drinking bootleg alcohol. In February, 26 people in Sleman district, next to Bantul, died after consuming locally bought homebrew.

Indonesia is home to the world's biggest Muslim population, but most practise a moderate form of Islam and alcohol is available in big cities.

However in rural areas, where few drink, getting hold of alcohol can be difficult and people sometimes turn to potentially dangerous home brews.