A Romanian court has rejected a man’s claim that he is alive, despite him standing before them.
Constantin Reliu asked the court in the town of Barlad to overturn a death certificate obtained by his wife after he had spent more than a decade in Turkey, during which time he was out of contact with his family. The court told him he was too late, and would have to remain officially deceased.
“I am officially dead, although I’m alive,” a bemused Reliu told local media outlets. “I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”
Reliu left Romania for Turkey in 1992, apparently to seek employment. He last returned to the country in 1999, and appears to have cut off all contact with his family. After years of silence from her estranged husband, Reliu’s wife obtained a backdated death certificate for him.
The Romanian daily Adevarul said Reliu’s wife had argued in court that having heard nothing from her husband since 1999, she had assumed he had died in an earthquake while in Turkey. The paper said Reliu believes she sought the death certificate in order to annul the marriage and allow her to remarry.
He may never have found out about his death in his homeland had he not been apprehended by Turkish authorities earlier this year and deported back to Romania because of expired documents. Reliu had planned to renew his passport in Romania and return to Turkey, but on arrival, he was detained by immigration officers who informed him he had died in 2003.
Reliu said he wants to return to Turkey and has set up a small company there, but is now faced with a confusing legal battle to regain his identity and obtain a passport.
A spokeswoman for the court explained to local news outlets that Reliu had been too late with his appeal against the death certificate and had thus lost the case. The ruling is apparently final and cannot be appealed against, leaving Reliu in legal limbo.
The bizarre situation is anything but amusing for Mr Reliu.
“I have no income and because I am listed as dead. I can’t do anything,” he told The Associated Press, on the verge of tears.
His wife now lives in Italy and he has no idea whether he is divorced, or whether she has remarried.
“Nobody will tell me.”