Russian police find smuggled caviar 'in morgue freezer'

SAINT PETERSBURG - Police have discovered a huge stash of contraband caviar stored in a hospital morgue freezer alongside dead bodies in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg, officials said Thursday.

Kept in large canisters marked "Aviation Security. Inspected," the stash of both red and black caviar weighed 175 kilograms (385 pounds) - a haul that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (euros) on the open market.

"The caviar was being stored in the morgue freezer, which relatives used to say their final goodbye to the departed," a police spokesman in Saint Petersburg said by telephone.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said the morgue appeared to have been partially leased to a local businessman who used it as a transport and packaging centre for the caviar.

Police said they were going to question the hospital's chief sanitary inspector but had no yet filed formal charges.