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Explainer: What it takes to preserve a body in a morgue for years

Since 2013, the remains of British businessman Roy Veevers have been preserved at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital (CGTRH) mortuary in Mombasa, awaiting decisions from an inquest about the cause of his death and who among his relatives will have the right to rebury his remains.
Veevers died on February 14, 2013, in Mombasa County and since then his sons Richard and David have been at loggerheads with their half-sisters Alexandra and Hellen Veevers and their mother Azra Parvin Din over the death.

Although he was buried in February under Islamic customs at a Mombasa Muslim Cemetery, his remains were exhumed nine months later under a court order for investigations. A request by his sons to have the remains released to them for burial in the UK hit a snag after the Mombasa High Court declared that it had no jurisdiction to issue such orders. This means that the remains will continue to be preserved at the mortuary indefinitely

Who bears the cost?

According to sources at the hospital, body preservation charges at the facility’s mortuary cost at least Sh600 per day. In one year, the costs would accumulate up to Sh219,000. Going by these charges, it would cost about Sh2.4 million for the slightly over 11 years in which Veevers’ body has been preserved. Typically, the family of the deceased is expected to cover the costs of preservation. However, Mr Mathew Nyabena, an advocate of the High Court, says that in cases where the body is preserved for an extended period due to a court order, the magistrate overseeing the matter may determine who is responsible for the preservation costs. “The court, in disposing of the case, will make an order as to the same,” he says.

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