[QODLink]
Americas

Chile exhumes body of poet Pablo Neruda

Experts have opened the tomb of Nobel-prize winning poet to determine if poison caused his death days after 1973 coup.

Last Modified: 08 Apr 2013 19:32
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Chilean forensic experts have exhumed the body of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda to solve a four-decade mystery about the poet's death, hoping to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned.

Patricio Bustos, head of Chile's medical legal service, said Neruda's body was in good shape after the one-hour exhumation on Monday.

"The time and the conditions under which the exhumation were performed were better than we could have imagined," said Bustos.

Tomb opening preparations began Sunday. His remains are in a tomb at one of his homes in Isla Negra that was turned into a museum.

Neruda, who died 12 days after the 1973 military coup that ousted Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, was long believed to have died of prostate cancer.

But in 2011, officials started looking into the possibility of whether the leftist author was poisoned by agents of the Pinochet regime, as claimed by Neruda's driver.

Neruda won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature and is best known for his love poems, as well as his "Canto General", an epic poem about South America's history and its people.

The Chilean justice system gave the go-ahead for the probe in June 2011 after a complaint was filed by the Chilean Communist Party, of which Neruda was a member.

In addition to the driver's accusations, the official complaint cites witnesses who say Neruda was healthy up until the day before his death. They said he did not exhibit symptoms consistent with the advanced cancer to which he was said to have lost his life.

The results of the inquiry will find in favour of, or against, the charge made by Neruda's driver and personal adviser Manuel Araya, who believed the poet was slain. Araya's claims spurred on the Communist Party's complaint.

Araya says Neruda died after receiving what the driver believed was a suspicious injection at Santiago's Santa Maria Hospital days after the coup that brought Pinochet to power.

In the years following the military coup, more than 3,000 leftists and others “disappeared” and are believed to have been killed by Pinochet’s government.

Neruda's death certificate says he died of complications from prostate cancer.

366

Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.