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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 12:39 GMT
Town offers home to frozen couple
Nederland's
Nederland recently marked "Frozen Dead Guy Day"
A Colorado town has offered sanctuary to the frozen corpses of a French couple after a court ruled the continued refrigeration of the bodies is illegal.

Nederland, 35 miles north-west of Denver, is already famed for housing one body frozen in the hope of future revival, and recently marked "Frozen Dead Guy Day".


The town is open to consider anything we can do for any foreign frozen dead people in stiff circumstances

Nederland Mayor Jim Miller
On Wednesday the town's mayor, Jim Miller, offered asylum to the bodies of Raymond Martinot, who died last month aged 80, and his wife, who died in 1984.

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 and ordered his son Remy to freeze him too when he died.

But a French court ruled on Wednesday that Remy Martinot must remove the bodies from their refrigerated chamber in the cellar of the family chateau in the western village of Nueil-sur-Layon and bury them.

Remy Martinot's lawyer, Alain Fouquet, has said he will appeal the court's decision.

Asylum offer

Mr Miller said the couple could be stored with Bredo Morstoel, known as "Grandpa", who is kept on dry ice at -68C (-90F) in a storage shed in the town.

Raymond Martinot
Raymond Martinot by the cellar holding his wife
"Anything that the town can do for any foreign frozen dead people under stiff circumstances, we certainly are open to trying to help," said Mr Miller.

Mr Morstoel's body was frozen using cryogenics - the freezing of bodies for possible revival at a later date - after he died in 1989.

Keeping corpses on private property has since been banned in Nederland - although the ruling has not been applied retrospectively to Bredo Morstoel.

However, Mr Miller said he was willing to hold a special election to exempt the frozen French couple from the law.

"We are trying to send a message to French officials that they shouldn't be so uptight," Miller said.

"What's the difference between storing frozen loved ones in your basement as opposed to incinerating loved ones and putting their ashes on your mantel?" he asked.

Moral debate

In Wednesday's trial, the local authorities insisted that putting a body in a fridge could not be considered a burial, while Mr Fouquet argued that there was nothing in existing legislation expressly prohibiting the freezing of bodies.

The ruling, he said, "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".

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


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

26 Feb 02 | Europe
12 Apr 01 | Europe
31 May 00 | Europe
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