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Body of Spanish man abandoned in potato warehouse in Iceland

Relatives of José Ignacio Soto, who died from a heart attack last week, are outraged at the “degrading” way his remains have been treated

Port city of Akureyr in Iceland.
Port city of Akureyr in Iceland. GETTY IMAGES

The family of José Ignacio Soto, a resident of La Malahá in Granada who died last Wednesday in Akureyri in Iceland, are outraged that his body was abandoned in a potato warehouse for nine hours before it was taken to the capital Reykjavik.

His corpse was set to be cremated this Thursday, and according to Rosa María Roldán, an aunt of the victim, the family had authorized a friend to bring the remains back to Spain.

We feel frustrated and helpless. No one has offered any help

Friend of José Soto

Soto had traveled to Iceland three weeks ago to look for work but died after having a heart attack at just 33 years of age, according to the magazine Ideal. Roldán said it was “degrading” that the body of her nephew “was transported in a fruit and vegetable truck” by the company Eimskip to the port of Akureyri, almost 400 kilometers from where it was supposed to have arrived on Monday – the morgue in Reykjavik, where it was awaiting an autopsy.

Instead Soto’s body was taken on Friday to the port by mortuary services “without prior consultation with the consul or the family.”

At Akureyri, the body was kept for nine hours, without air conditioning or any supervision, next to a potato factory. It was only moved when one of Soto’s friends in Iceland discovered it early Saturday morning. The friend quickly put the box in cold storage and alerted authorities about what had happened. Soto’s group of friends showed the Spanish consul and the police photos of the incident.

Soto’s body was taken to Akureyri “without prior consultation with the family”

Another friend has decided to return Soto’s ashes to Spain after the consulate confirmed the “elevated cost of repatriating the body.” He told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: “It costs €10,000 and his family has very limited financial resources, and wouldn’t be able to pay for it. That’s why I decided to bring the remains in an urn to La Malahá,” adding: “We feel frustrated and helpless. No one has offered any help.”

According to Roldán, Soto’s body is now in Reykjavik where it is waiting to be transferred to Madrid. She said her nephew “had no illness before his trip.” “He was happy, he was fulfilling his dream. He trusted he was going to find work,” she said.

Before traveling to Iceland, Soto was living with his mother in La Malahá. The deputy mayor of La Malahá, Francisco Moreno, said local authorities have assisted the family with the repatriation process.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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