Poet Pablo Neruda's body exhumed

April 8, 2013 at 3:26 PM
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ISLA NEGRA, Chile, April 8 (UPI) -- The body of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda was exhumed from his grave in Chile Monday to determine whether he was killed by the Pinochet regime in 1973.

Neruda, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature, died 12 days after a right-wing coup in Chile ousted socialist President Salvador Allende and brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power, CNN reported Monday. Neruda, whose official cause of death was cancer, is buried in Isla Negra.

Neruda, a vocal critic of Pinochet, intended to go into exile Sept. 24, 1973, but died the day before, his chauffeur, Manuel Araya, said.

"I believe Pablo Neruda was murdered. They silenced him before [his departure]," Araya said.

An inquiry into his death, by the country's Justice Ministry, may rewrite history and add Neruda's name to the long list of victims of the Pinochet regime, The Santiago Times reported.

The newspaper said the investigation, including analysis of Neruda's body, may leave those involved dissatisfied.

"If we don't find any sign of cancer in the bones, we will have more questions after the exhumation than before," said Dr. Luis Ravanal Zapeda, a forensic medical expert.

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