French judge rules 'indecent' bodies exhibition must close

Wed, Apr 22, 2009, 01:00

PARIS – An exhibition of human bodies, which has travelled the world and been seen by millions, is indecent and must shut down, a French judge has ruled.

The decision is based on a new law that regulates how corpses can be disposed of and could force all French museums to withdraw bodies or skeletons from display.

The “Our Body” exhibition, similar to the “Bodies” show which ran in Dublin recently, features cadavers that have been flayed to reveal internal body workings.

French rights groups condemned the show, repeating accusations from previous such shows that the unidentified bodies might be Chinese execution victims.

Two groups took the organisers to court and, in a ruling released yesterday, Judge Louis-Marie Raingeard said the exhibition denigrated the body, without entering into the issue of the origin of the bodies.

“The law says a body should be in a cemetery,” the judge said, giving the organisers 24 hours to shut down the exhibition or face a fine of €20,000 for each day they refused to comply with the order.

The judge also said the corpses should be handed over to the authorities under threat of a fine of €50,000 a day.

The French exhibition was organised by events entrepreneur Pascal Bernardin, who said he would appeal. “I am staggered by this decision,” he said. “There is no lack of respect for the dead here.”

Numerous versions of the show have been seen by some 30 million people worldwide. The Paris exhibition had been scheduled to stay open until May 10th. – (Reuters)