FOUR workers at the Municipal Cemetery of El Salvador in the city Oviedo in the Asturias, northern Spain have been arrested by police for stealing from dead bodies.
They have been charged with theft and desecration of corpses.
It is alleged they stole jewellery, personal effects and gold teeth from corpses as the bodies were exhumed from niches and transferred to the general ossuary.
The four are employees of the funeral company that has the concession of running the municipal cemetery and it is believed their activities had been going on ‘for years’.
Officers from the National Police believe they would have profited around €11,000 euros from the sale of gold teeth and other effects.
The niches in the municipal cemetery of El Salvador can no longer be bought. They can be rented for five years or fifty. Once the established time has elapsed the company that manages the cemetery advises the family members, who may either extend the rent or the remains of their relative exhumed.
An undertaker said, “Most people who do not extend the rental period contract funeral services to collect the remains and incinerate them. There is a very low percentage of remains that go to the ossuary.”
“Relatives are advised to attend the exhumation if that is what they have decided, but most do not attend.”
“Very few families go to the exhumations,” said a colleague of the four arrested.
“They are very unpleasant.”