The first two people died after drinking drinks containing a dangerous concentration of methanol on September 6, 2012. The victims continued to rise, so the police had a double task – to find the culprit and also to prevent the toxic drinks from reaching other people.
A police investigation team named Metyl was created and headed by Martin Baláž, then head of the Zlín crime branch – today the director of the Office for the Protection of the President of the Republic. In September 2012, he was involved in an investigation into the theft of rhino horns. “I learned that I should return to Zlín, that people are dying from methanol here,” he described the beginnings.
Detectives then interviewed many people who sold the dangerous drinks – and were rarely met with silence. “During my work at the criminal police, I have rarely experienced that all the people were so positive about it, testifying. It was mainly because no one wanted the black Peter to stay on it. The weight of the consequences in the methanol case, how many people died every day, was so great that those people began to testify and move us further in the chain to the person who did it,” Baláž pointed out.
However, it was Rudolf Fian who was silent at first. According to a later judgment, he and Tomáš Křepela mixed the dangerous mixture in a warehouse in Opava, and the police tracked him down through a masked garage in the Jižní Svahy housing estate in Zlín.
“There was a garage that had a false door, behind which the commotion took place. The person who went to that company in Opava brought concentrate. Based on the requirements of pubs, convenience stores and others, she made an order and in the mixing room on the Southern Slopes it was divided into various alcohols such as pine fine, green, rum and others according to demand,” described the former head of the Metyl team.
According to him, Rudolf Fian was the first suspect who was not from the Zlín Region. The police went to Ostrava to pick him up, but already there he told them that he would not talk to them. But eventually it changed. After a few hours in the cell, he had police chief Balaže called and, according to his memories, asked: “So how much?” He wondered how many people had died after ingesting the substance he had mixed.
“There were about 25 or 28 of them at the time. The guy my officers brought in was a completely different person. Suddenly it hit him, he probably realized what he had done. Then he said he would cooperate,” Baláž described the decisive moment.
Even so, it was not possible to prevent the death of another two dozen people who were exposed to the toxic alcohol. Ten people were convicted in the main branch of the methanol case. Křepela and Fian were given life sentences, apart from them, Jiří Vacula, who was the main distributor of poisoned alcohol, and another of his distributors, Robert Sedlařík, are still in prison. He was also punished for tax evasion. The other convicts have either already served their sentences or have been released on parole.