Women deny dead relative smuggling charge

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The Independent Online

Two women arrested on suspicion of allegedly trying to smuggle a dead relative on to a flight to Germany insisted they were innocent.

Gitta Jarant and her daughter Anke Anusic were arrested at Liverpool John Lennon Airport on Saturday when it transpired Kurt Willi Jarant, 91, was dead.

Mr Jarant, known as Willi, was in a wheelchair and wearing sunglasses when officials checked his pulse and found no life.

Mrs Jarant, 66, and Mrs Anusic were due to board a flight to Berlin with several others when police swooped to arrest them on suspicion of failing to give notification of death.

The women deny claims that Mr Jarant had been dead for 24 hours and they had managed to ferry him from their home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, by taxi.

Mrs Jarant, who was married to her husband for nine years, said: "We were in love.

"He was in my heart.

"If I wasn't any good my husband wouldn't have wanted me.

"He was a really good man.

"Everyone loved him and everyone was in shock about his death.

"I loved my Willi.

"He never shouted, he had very English etiquette."

The pair said when they arrived at the airport two employees brought a wheelchair to the taxi and helped the Alzheimer's sufferer out.

They only told officials he was asleep because they really thought he was, they said last night.

Mrs Jarant said: "Someone called the medical team and they got a doctor.

"They put up a curtain so people couldn't see.

"He was laid out on the floor.

"He would have been stiff if he had been dead for more than 24 hours."

Mrs Anusic, a part-time child minder and student, said her mother went into shock and began crying when she realised her husband was dead.

Asked why the former commercial pilot was wearing sunglasses, Mrs Anusic said it was because he had an unsightly eye and they did not want fellow travellers staring at him.

"So many people had seen him in the previous 24 hours," she added.

"We had checked his temperature and checked his wellbeing.

"The accusations are wrong.

"Willi had been eating and had no fever.

"He was warm and wasn't in an emergency situation.

"When we were detained at the airport we thought it was normal procedure - we were only arrested after a nine hour wait.

"A police doctor said he had been dead for more than 24 hours."

Andrew Millea, an airport worker, told reporters Mrs Anusic asked for help lifting the elderly man from the taxi.

He said: "I did my best to help by carefully lifting the man from his seat. To my horror his face fell sideways against mine, it was ice cold.

"I knew straight away that the man was dead, but they reassured me that he 'always sleeps like that'."

Mr Millea said he alerted security staff and the family was led to a side room where first-aid staff confirmed the man was dead.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: "At 11am on Saturday April 3, 2010, police at Liverpool John Lennon airport were alerted to the death of a 91-year-old man in the terminal building.

"Two women aged 41 and 66 were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of death.

"They have been released on bail until 1 June 2010.

"The coroner has been informed and police are continuing with their inquiries."

A post-mortem examination is due to take place over the next few days.