A COUPLE whose mummified remains have been stored in a city mortuary for 12 years are finally set to be laid to rest after court action was launched.
The bodies of Eugenios and Hilda Marcel are still being kept at Edinburgh City Mortuary in the Cowgate, after being found in the basement of a former fishmonger’s in Polwarth in 2002.
The couple, who died in 1987 and 1994, have remained in the mortuary ever since, with the council unable to gain family consent to bury or cremate them. Now officials hope the situation will be resolved within months as the case is brought before the supreme civil court of Scotland.
Councillor Jeremy Balfour said: “I think there does come a stage where the council does have to respect the dead and give the bodies either an appropriate cremation or burial.
“It’s been 12 years, and I think it would be an appropriate time for the council to seek a legal remedy to do that, while at the same time taking account of the family’s wishes.
“There does need to be a point where the bodies are laid to rest.”
It is understood that one of the couple’s two sons – a registered undertaker who is believed to have kept the bodies of his parents in the shop in Gilmore Place because he could not bear to let them go – had hoped to convert his home in the Capital into a private mausoleum to store their bodies.
The complex nature of that application is at the root of the ongoing legal action with the council which has prevented the bodies from being interred.
Mr Marcel died of prostate cancer in 1994 at the age of 91. Hilda had died seven years earlier in 1987, after suffering lung failure. She was 68.
When they were discovered, the father had already been dead for eight years and the mother for 15 years.
The two bodies – perfectly embalmed and lying in coffins – were discovered in 2002 by officers investigating allegations of fraud at a West Lothian undertakers. It was alleged that staff at a funeral home in Broxburn had been paid to preserve the bodies, and four members of staff were later sacked.
Both deaths had been registered under law, however, and death certificates issued. After an initial police investigation into the find, no charges were brought. Repeated efforts have been made by council officials and the couple’s remaining family but a resolution could not be met.
A city council spokesperson said: “We are keen to conclude this matter and appreciate the sensitivities and rights of families. We will follow the direction received from the Court of Session but hope the decision will allow the bodies to be buried in the near future.”