Frozen French couple offered sanctuary in US

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Help may be at hand for the French couple who had themselves cryogenically frozen in the hope that medical science might one day be able to unearth their dead bodies and bring them back to life. A small town in Colorado, which has had its own dead guy stashed away in a freezer, has offered to house them now that the French courts have declared their self-preservation project to be illegal.

"Anything that the town can do for any foreign frozen dead people ... we certainly are open to trying to help," said Jim Miller, mayor of the mountain community of Nederland, 35 miles north-west of Denver.

A week has passed since the French authorities pulled the plug, so to speak, on the refrigeration of Raymond Martinot and Monique Leroy, who currently reside, at a cool minus 60C, in the basement of the chateau they owned in the Loire.

Under French law, bodies have to be buried, cremated or formally donated to science. In Nederland, Colorado, however, the French couple would find themselves in good company since the town is already home to Bredo Morstoel, a dead Norwegian who has been encased in a ton of dry ice in a garden shed since 1993.

Morstoel himself has been a subject of some controversy, not least because he died in Norway, not Colorado, and his grandson and posthumous guardian, Trygve Bauge, was deported one year after the cryogenic experiment began. Nederland passed an ordinance shortly afterwards that declared lingering body parts, whether frozen or unfrozen, to be a public nuisance -- although it made an exception for "Grandpa Bredo", who has gone on to become something of a local mascot.

Now there is talk of repealing the ordinance and turning body-freezing into a local industry. Earlier this month, Nederland held a festival called the Frozen Dead Guy Days – a sort of cryogenic Mardi Gras featuring a coffin race, a Grim Reaper parade and a screening of a documentary entitled Grandpa's in the Tuff Shed.

The festival, and Mayor Miller's offer of political asylum to the French couple, have raised a few eyebrows locally, not least because this is an election year and some suspect the mayor might not be acting entirely out of unselfish motives. (Mr Miller's campaign manager, incidentally, is a talking parrot called Jose.)

Whether Nederland's offer can help the late Martinot and his wife also remains to be seen. Remy Martinot, the couple's son, is appealing against the court ruling, but under French law the authorities could thaw the bodies and dispose of them even while the appeal is pending.