Cemetery full, mayor tells locals not to die

BORDEAUX, France Wed Mar 5, 2008 3:58pm EST

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BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - The mayor of a village in southwest France has threatened residents with severe punishment if they die, because there is no room left in the overcrowded cemetery to bury them.

In an ordinance posted in the council offices, Mayor Gerard Lalanne told the 260 residents of the village of Sarpourenx that "all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish."

It added: "Offenders will be severely punished."

The mayor said he was forced to take drastic action after an administrative court in the nearby town of Pau ruled in January that the acquisition of adjoining private land to extend the cemetery would not be justified.

Lalanne, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Wednesday and is standing for election to a seventh term in this month's local elections, said he was sorry that there had not been a positive outcome to the dilemma.

"It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me," he said.

(Reporting by Claude Canellas, Writing by Andrew Dobbie; editing by Sami Aboudi)

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