February 18, 2019
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Spanish court probes funeral parlor in fraud case concerning re-used coffins

Valladolid (Spain), Feb 11 (efe-epa).- A court in the northern Spanish city of Valladolid on Monday started filing the first claims in a macabre fraud case involving a local funeral parlor that allegedly sold and resold thousands of coffins to their clients in mourning over a span of two decades.

The local court confirmed receipt of the first claims regarding the supposed fraudulent scam perpetrated by the city's El Salvador funeral parlor, whose victims allegedly paid for expensive high-grade coffins while their relatives were actually being cremated inside cheap, low-quality caskets that were sometimes re-used to host other corpses.

Madrid-based attorneys Bárbara Royo and Patricia Catalina from the law firm Castellana 266 have requested being present in the lawsuit that could see more than 100 claimants sue the parlor, as the judicial investigation covers a 20-year period between 1995-2015.

Royo spoke to Efe and explained that the documents required for victims to proceed with the suit included a funeral invoice or insurance plan, the family register, an identity card certifying their relationship with the deceased and an obituary.

However, to this day, only around 30 claimants have provided all legal documents required by the lawyers so as to help prove they were defrauded by the funeral home's management.

The funeral parlor's owner and two of his sons – one of whom is currently the parlor's manager – remain locked up in prison, although both sons are able to opt for release under bail, which the court set at 800,000 euros ($902,000) for each.

Spanish police registered the funeral parlor's premises on up to seven different occasions and obtained a massive amount of documentation.

The scope of the investigation now covers an additional 13 people – either relatives of the owner or workers employed by the funeral house – who were also arrested, though later released with charges.

According to a top Valladolid police source recently contacted by Efe, the accused allegedly resorted to "negligible" quality coffins to carry out the cremations instead of the more expensive coffins paid for by grieving relatives.

When asked how many times the coffins were used in different funeral ceremonies, the same police source explained that, depending on the state of the coffin, they would either incinerate it or save it for another occasion.

Pending a final figure, police suspect the long-lasting fraud amounted to several millions of euros.

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