April 9, 2010 / 4:15 PM / 10 years ago

Corpse was still alive at airport, wife says

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German woman arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle a corpse onto a plane says her husband was still alive when they reached Liverpool airport.

Gitta Jarant told Bild newspaper on Friday she hopes to get the remains of her husband Willi from Britain as soon as possible to have him cremated — and then return to Berlin.

Jarant and her daughter were arrested at Liverpool’s John Lennon airport on Saturday suspected of failing to give notice of Willi’s death. She told the paper the 91-year-old former pilot had died at the airport just before the flight.

“I’m not a smuggler,” Jarant, 66, told Bild. “My Willi only died at the airport. He suddenly looked so lifeless, like a wax figure. His fingernails turned blue all of a sudden. At home he was still warm — I swear!”

The retired pilot was pushed in a wheelchair through the airport wearing sunglasses before check-in staff became suspicious and he was prevented from boarding the plane.

“I want to have Willi cremated and then fly home to Berlin with his ashes,” Jarant said. They live in Berlin but spent several months each year in England with her daughter, she said.

Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Paul Casciato

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