Teen binge-drinker dies - Berlin bartenders convicted

Other News Materials 11 February 2008 22:56 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Two young bartenders were convicted and a third acquitted in Berlin Monday on accessory-to-assault charges after they poured the drinks for a schoolboy who binge- drank to death a year ago.

The case of the boy who fell into a fatal coma after 45 glasses of tequila shocked Germans in February 2007.

The male bartenders, 21 and 18, were ordered to attend 10 months of behavioural coaching. A waitress, 18, who poured the first three drinks for the boy was acquitted.

The owner, 27, of the bar, which has since closed, is free on bail, awaiting trial on more serious charges.

As a witness, he claimed the boy, an experienced drinker, challenged him to see who could stay upright for longer while serial drinking. The owner cheated by drinking coloured water only.

Judge Kai Dieckmann said teenagers always tried to go too far with alcohol and could not be stopped.

"Even strict US laws governing alcohol have not stopped binge drinking in that country," he said.

Shocked Germans heard last year that some Berlin bars offered a young clientele "all you can drink" for 10 euros (14.50 dollars) or less. Police later cracked down.

Rolf Huellinghorst, general manager of the German Headquarters for Dependency Issues, said at the time that Europe's most populous nation had one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the industrialized world.

Germans consume an average of 10 litres of pure alcohol each year," he said, adding that around 12 per cent of the 82 million population were "at risk" because of their drinking habits.

Huellinghorst suggested German binge drinkers might have overtaken their counterparts in England, where the practice of young people drinking themselves senseless is no longer considered unusual.