Constantin Reliu, 63, is alive and well, but after he was gone for 26 years, his wife finally got a death certificate for him in 2016. Now a Romanian court has refused to reverse it – because he waited too long to appeal the case.

The New York Times reported on the story Friday morning, saying a spokeswoman for the court in the northeast city of Vasului, Romania told local authorities on Friday that Reliu lost his case because he had appealed too late, after his wife had registered him dead.  The decision reportedly cannot be reversed and is final.

Local news reports on the case said that Mr. Reliu had lost contact with his wife and family when he traveled to Turkey in 1992 for work.

Hearing no news from her husband for years, his wife got a death certificate for him in 2016.

The authorities in Turkey found Mr. Reliu this year with expired papers and deported him. But when he arrived in Romania, he discovered he had been declared dead.

“I am officially dead, although I’m alive,” Mr. Reliu was quoted as saying in local news reports. “I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”

The Balkin Insight reported that Mr. Rliu wants to return to Turkey where he owns a business, he he must first get his identity back before he can leave the country.

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.