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Friday, February 6, 1998 Published at 16:09 GMT



World: Europe

Numbers up?
image: [ Mr Villasante may prove a money-spinner to his family from beyond the grave ]
Mr Villasante may prove a money-spinner to his family from beyond the grave

Police are guarding a cemetery in northern Spain because a winning lottery ticket may have been buried there with its owner.

Juan Villasante Paz, a retired streetsweeper from the Galicia region, died of a heart attack hours before his lottery numbers were drawn on January 26.


[ image: He was buried in the suit he was wearing when he bought the ticket]
He was buried in the suit he was wearing when he bought the ticket
The 76-year-old was buried in the same suit he was wearing the day he bought the ticket in a bar.

It was only after the funeral that relatives discovered the ticket was not in the bag of personal effects given to them by the funeral home.

A search of the 76-year-old's home also proved fruitless.

Mr Villasante's niece, Maria Antonia Alonsa, told the El Pais newspaper: "It was either stolen or buried with him. The ticket has to appear. I don't think it went to heaven with my uncle."

As the prize of five million pesetas (about £20,000) has to be claimed within 20 days of the draw the family have been forced to take drastic action.

As well as asking for a police guard on the cemetery they are also seeking permission from a judge to exhume Mr Villasante and search his clothes.
 





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