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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 17:27 GMT
French court rules against frozen couple
Cryonics company
Many European countries restrict freezing of bodies
A French court has ruled that a couple who were frozen after their death in the hope of future revival must be removed from their refrigerated chamber and buried.


This decision flouts the sacred principle of absolute respect for a man's final wish

Alain Fouquet
Defence Lawyer
The court decided that the continued freezing of Raymond Martinot, who died last month aged 80, and of his wife, who died in 1984, was against French law, which dictates that bodies must either be cremated or buried.

Dr Martinot, who believed advances in medical technology would one day enable the frozen dead to be brought back to life, had his wife's body frozen after she died of cancer in 1984 and ordered his son Remy to freeze him too when he died.

The pair are currently in a special cellar in the family chateau in the western village of Nueil-sur-Layon. The judge authorised the use of force if necessary for the execution of the court's decision.

Moral issue

The local authorities insisted that putting a body in a fridge could not be considered a burial, while Remy Martinot's lawyer, Alain Fouquet, argued that there was nothing in existing legislation expressly prohibiting the freezing of bodies.

Raymond Martinot
Raymond Martinot outside the cellar holding his wife

The ruling, said Mr Fouquet, "flouts the scared principle of an absolute respect for a man's last wish".

He criticised the court for not deliberating longer on a subject which he said needed the testimonies of "medical experts, and even philosophers".

Remy Martinot may appeal, but this is not likely to delay the burial.

Showpiece

His father became a much celebrated name in the world of cryogenics - the freezing of bodies for possible revival at a later date - after successfully freezing his wife Monique.

It is reported that while he gained permission from the authorities in 1984 to bury her at the family's chateau, they were not aware that he planned to inject anti-coagulants in her veins and place her body in her refrigerator.

He is said to have frequently showed visitors the place where he kept his wife's body, a cellar kept at a constant temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many European countries have legislation in place restricting the preservation of dead bodies in such a way.

To circumvent such restrictions, those interested in resuming life at a later date have come to an arrangement with cryogenics companies in the United States, where it is permitted in several states.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
To freeze or not
Who should have the final word?
See also:

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