Ex-Chilean leader Allende to be exhumed

April 16, 2011 at 11:33 AM
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SANTIAGO, Chile, April 16 (UPI) -- A Chilean judge has ordered the remains of former President Salvador Allende to be exhumed to clarify whether he committed suicide nearly 38 years ago.

Since January, the government has been re-examining allegations of human-rights abuses after the military coup in 1973 when the communist leader Allende was toppled by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

After air and ground attacks on the presidential palace in Santiago on Sept. 11, 1973, the 65-year-old Allende was found dead in the wreckage and officials said he had shot himself with a rifle given to him by his friend, Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Meanwhile, the federal probe into rights abuses has gained support of Allende's daughter Isabel, who is now a senator, The Daily Telegraph said.

"We requested the exhumation and autopsy," she told reporters. "I think it's the most rigorous and definitive proof to clear up the causes of his death and we think this is going to be tremendously important."

Allende was elected in 1970 with only 36 percent of the vote and governed until the 1973 coup by Pinochet, who was in power until 1990.

Rights groups are looking into the disappearance of more than 3,000 political dissidents during Pinochet's rule. He died in 2006 at the age of 91.

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