Italian police arrested five morticians on Wednesday on charges of making tens of thousands of euros a month in bribes from funeral homes and profiting from grieving families of the dead.
The morticians would tip off a favoured funeral home when a corpse arrived and took kick-backs from the cost of the burial ceremony, said Francesco Pastore, the regional financial police chief in the central town of Pesaro.
They were thought to have made e10 000 (R134 000) a month each from the practice, he said.
Corruption is a serious problem in Italy’s public services, siphoning e60 billion annually from national finances, according to its audit court.
Pastore said former employees of the hospital and town council also operated on bodies to remove pacemakers despite lacking the correct medical training.
Detectives are probing whether the heart-regulating devices were sold on the black market.
“These pacemakers in theory should have been destroyed. But instead we are trying to discover what happened to them. It cannot be excluded that they were reused,” Pastore said.
Other accusations the morticians face include pocketing payments from families for preparing and dressing the dead rather than passing them on to the hospital, selling clothes, shoes and rosary beads for the dead at inflated cost, and giving formaldehyde injections without the proper medical training. – Reuters