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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 22:40 GMT
French bride weds dead boyfriend
Christel Demichel
Christel Demichel - a widow on her wedding day
Dressed in black, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman has married her boyfriend.

But Christel Demichel's wedding needed special permission because her policeman boyfriend, Eric, was killed by a hit-and-run driver 18 months ago.

The bride said she knew some people might be shocked but Eric's death had not dimmed her feelings for him.

The wedding at Nice city hall, attended by the couple's close friends and family, took place on what would have been Mr Demichel's 30th birthday.


"Eric and I promised when he was alive that we would get married," Mrs Demichel told France's La Chaine Info TV.

"Even though he is dead, I respect the values I shared with him, especially as his death was not his fault."

Eric was knocked down on the outskirts of Nice in September 2002.

Mrs Demichel, who lost the couple's unborn baby after her fiance's death, admitted that getting married to a dead person might shock some people.

"I think it's out of respect for someone who has just died", she said, adding that she was proud to be bearing the Demichel name.

"I need to go beyond death", she told the French news agency.

Legal struggle

Mrs Demichel's lawyer, Gilbert Collard, said the fight to get permission for the marriage had not been an easy one. He said the law allowing posthumous marriage - a rarely used legal provision - was introduced in France by General de Gaulle.

"It provides a means of giving legal expression to an emotional reality," he said.

A man was jailed for two years and fined 4,500 euros after a court found him guilty of knocking down Mr Demichel while driving on the wrong side of the road.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Allan Little
"It is a civic ceremony that turns a bride instantly into a widow"

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