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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Keeping body frozen ruled illegal

A French court has rejected the attempt by a brother and sister from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion to keep their dead mother's body in a freezer at home.

Joelle Leroy, 50, and her 52-year-old brother, Michel, said they could not bear to be parted from their mother, Lise, and wanted to preserve her in a glass-topped freezer in their basement.

When this was refused by a court in Reunion, a French overseas territory, the pair took their case to the appeal court in Bordeaux - which has jurisdiction over the island.

But the court ruled that "the conservation of a dead person through freezing is not considered as a way of treating a body in the eyes of the law."

Body conserved

Lise Leroy has been preserved since her death on 13 July last year at minus 15Celsius in a morgue in the island's capital, St Dennis.

"We think we are suffering an injustice here. French law is the toughest in the world with regards to this," said Joelle Leroy.

Ms Leroy said that she and her brother might take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"We refuse to see our mother forcibly buried," she said.

Under French law, bodies can be either buried or cremated.

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