ISSN 2330-717X

Romania: Court Insists Living Man Is Legally ‘Dead’


By Ana Maria Luca

A court ruling in eastern Romania has left a man unable to leave the country because his family long ago had him declared dead.

A Romanian man who has been working and living in Turkey for 26 years has made headlines after a court in Eastern Romania denied his appeal to cancel his death certificate, issued in 2016.

Constantin Reliu, from Barlad, eastern Romania, on Thursday said he left the country in 1992 to work in Turkey and last visited his family in 1999. He then broke off contact with his wife, but she did not divorce him. Instead, in 2013, she filed for a local court to declare him dead.

Reliu said he only found out he was no longer a citizen in January when he arrived at Bucharest airport, after the Turkish authorities deported him back to Romania because his documents had expired.

“The head of the border police in Otopeni [airport] called me to his office, turned on his computer and showed it to me: ‘Look, Constantin Reliu [declared] dead by his wife,’” he told local news channel Digi24 on Wednesday.

The court said it rejected his appeal because it came too late, almost two years after he was pronounced dead.

Under Romanian law, Reliu can still file for an annulment of the death certificate in the same court where the 2016 decision was issued, regardless of his rejected appeal.

He said he wanted to return to Turkey where he owns a business, but first needs to get his identity back in order to leave the country.

“I am dead according to the papers, although I am alive. I have no source of income, and I can’t get a job, I can’t do anything because I am dead,” he said.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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