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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
French mayor bans death
Graveyard
Nineteen bodies are still waiting for a permanent burial
The mayor of a village on the French Riviera whose cemetery has run out of space has issued a decree telling people not to die.

"It is forbidden for any person not in possession of a family vault to die on the village's territory," the order stated.


It is an absurd law enacted because of an absurd situation

Mayor Gil Bernardi
The mayor of Le Lavandou, 40km (25 miles) east of Toulon, said he took the decision because a court in Nice has blocked plans to build a new cemetery.

The local Green Party had complained that the site for the proposed cemetery broke a law on sea shore constructions.

The party has proposed the new cemetery be located in a rock quarry in a less populated area.

Temporary graves

Mayor Gil Bernardi said he issued the death ban to highlight the lack of burial space in the village.

"It is an absurd law enacted because of an absurd situation," said Mr Bernardi.

Under French law people have a right to be buried where they wish, but Mr Bernardi said the village simply could not fulfil that.

"Article 2013 of the local authorities code obliges the mayor to provide for the rapid burial of bodies. I have a duty, and I cannot respect it. It is absolutely impossible," he said.

Ninteen bodies waiting

"The Greens want us to put the new cemetery in a remote quarry," said the mayor. "We can't get rid of our dead in a dump."

At the moment 19 bodies are still waiting for a permanent burial space. They are temporarily buried in friends' vaults, waiting for a permanent plot.

The space crisis has been brewing for three years, the mayor said. The appeal procedure to overturn the Nice court ruling could last up to three years.

About 80 people die each year in Le Lavandou, and only about half of them own a family vault. Nearly a third of the village's 5,508 residents are aged over 65.

"I issued the decree yesterday hoping for official attention," Mr Bernardi said on Thursday. "No one has died since then and I hope it stays that way."

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See also:

10 Feb 99 | UK
It's your funeral
05 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Remembering the dead - with beads
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