Iran has sentenced four people to death for selling contaminated bootleg alcohol that killed 17 people and sent dozens more to hospital in June, the judiciary said on Tuesday.

The sale and consumption of alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, giving rise to a huge illicit trade in smuggled or bootleg alcohol, some of it adulterated with poisonous methanol.

In June, at least 17 people died and 191 were admitted to hospital with symptoms of methanol poisoning after drinking adulterated alcohol.

Judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi said 11 defendants had been charged with the capital offence of corruption on earth over the distribution of the toxic liquor in Alborz province, west of Tehran.

Of the 11, four were sentenced to death while the rest received prison sentences of one to five years, Setayeshi said, adding that the convicts could appeal to the Supreme Court.

In June, authorities said they had raided a cosmetics factory where they had seized more than 6,000 litres (1,585 gallons) of bootleg alcohol preventing its distribution.

In the year to March, 644 people died after consuming "counterfeit alcoholic beverages", Iran's forensics institute said, a 30 percent increase on the previous 12-month period.

At the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020, at least 210 Iranians died after drinking bootleg alcohol, falsely believing it to be a remedy for the virus.

Only members of Iran's Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian minorities are exempt from the alcohol ban. Foreigners are required to respect it.