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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 15:08 GMT
'Life or death' case for Spaniard
A woman in Spain is celebrating the end of an eight-year battle to be taken off the country's death register after officials insisted she died in 1992.

Maria Antonia Calvo, 43, from Malaga said that, despite presenting herself to a judge, the Civil Registry of Barcelona refused to amend its records.

The court's decision to "declare her alive" paves the way for her to marry.

Ms Calvo alleges her brother registered her as dead over an inheritance dispute and said she is planning legal action.

She said her father died without leaving a will. Under Spanish law, any inheritance goes to the next in line but they must have siblings' permission to use it.

Ms Calvo told the BBC she believes her brother registered her as dead 14 years ago so that he could gain free access to the inheritance.

Legal battle

She was made aware of the situation eight years ago when she received a court summons from Barcelona to verify her status, she added.

She immediately presented herself to a judge to prove that she was alive but the civil registry in Barcelona would not change the paperwork.

When he asked me to marry him, I said: 'I love you a lot but I can't marry you, I can't because I'm dead'
Maria Antonia Calvo

Lawyers refused to represent her saying there was no precedent.

Ms Calvo said the situation would probably still not have been resolved if the media had not taken an interest in her case.

She said her fiance Antonio Guzman had urged her to speak to the press after he learned of her situation.

"When he asked me to marry him, I said: 'I love you a lot but I can't marry you, I can't because I'm dead'," she said.

"When I showed him my birth certificate with the stamp across it which officially showed I was dead he couldn't believe it, and it was thanks to him that I launched a cry for help to the media."

"Being dead" made life difficult, according to Ms Calvo.

"I still paid tax and rent so in that case there was no problem being dead.

"Other than that I wasn't able to get married, I wouldn't have been able to draw a pension and my younger son, who is four, was an orphan because his mother was dead," she said.

Ms Calvo said the worst part of the situation was living with the fear that the authorities could take her two children from her.

She is now legally "alive" and is planning to marry Mr Guzman in Spring.


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