'Dumped' man lives in airport

Last updated 10:51 30/10/2009
Heinz Muller
HEINZ MULLER: The German former pilot is living at an airport in Brazil after reportedly being dumped by an online girlfriend.

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A German man, reportedly dumped by a Brazilian woman he met on the internet, has been living in an airport for 13 days and isn't saying when he will leave.

The man, identified by authorities as Heinz Muller, is out of money, according to airport workers, some of whom bring him meals from the food court.

The 46-year-old former pilot passes the time wandering the airport in Campinas, an industrial city about an hour's drive from Sao Paulo, or using his laptop perched on a luggage cart.

Occasionally he speaks to workers and passengers in basic Portuguese mixed with some Spanish.

Muller arrived in Rio de Janeiro on October 2 and can stay as long as he breaks no laws, said a spokesman for Brazil's civil aviation authority.

Most European tourists are allowed to stay three months in Brazil, presumably giving Muller until early January before he would face deportation.

The spokesman also confirmed reports that Muller said he wound up at the airport after being dumped by a woman living nearby. He visited after meeting her on the internet.

He has declined offers to stay at a shelter or in housing offered by nonprofit groups, the spokesman added.

The case is similar to that of Hiroshi Nohara, a Japanese man who spent three months living in the Mexico City airport and left last December.

Nohara turned into a local celebrity, and his story drew comparisons to that of Viktor Navorski, a character portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 2004 movie The Terminal.

But Navorski was forced to stay at a New York City airport after war broke out in his Eastern European country, and officials said they could neither allow him into the US nor deport him.

Muller washes himself in the airport bathrooms and sleeps on chairs in the airport's only terminal.

In a brief interview in English, he said that airport workers "are treating me OK" and that he wants to move permanently to Latin America's largest country.

"I want to be living in Brazil in somewhere pretty," he said, declining to elaborate after an Associated Press reporter would not buy him the computer cable he demanded in return for answering questions.

Muller's passport says he is from Munich, though Muller has told people in the airport he lives elsewhere in Germany, the aviation spokesman said. The German Embassy's media office in Brasilia declined immediate comment about Muller.

Airport workers said they've started to get used to Muller.

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"He doesn't cause any problems for anybody," said Cristiane Moraes, 22, who works at the airport's traveler information desk. "He's just sitting around all day long."

Airport police officer Wilson Slauzino said he feels sorry for Muller.

"He just doesn't have a place to go and wants to stay at the airport for now," the officer said.

- AP


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