Pablo Neruda assassination probe finds cancer didn’t kill him

A view of the tombstone of Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda inside the grounds of his house-museum before the exhumation of his remains in the coastal town of Isla Negra, about 106km northwest of Santiago April 7, 2013. — Reuters pic
A view of the tombstone of Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda inside the grounds of his house-museum before the exhumation of his remains in the coastal town of Isla Negra, about 106km northwest of Santiago April 7, 2013. — Reuters pic

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SANTIAGO, Oct 21 — International experts announced yesterday that Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer, but could not conclusively determine if he was assassinated by late dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Neruda, a celebrated poet, politician, diplomat and bohemian, died in 1973 aged 69, just days after Pinochet, then the head of the Chilean army, overthrew Socialist president Salvador Allende in a bloody coup.

The writer, who was also a prominent member of the Chilean Communist party, had been preparing to flee into exile in Mexico to lead the resistance against Pinochet’s regime.

He died in a Santiago clinic where he was being treated for prostate cancer.

“The (death) certificate does not reflect the real cause of death,” Aurelio Luna said at a news conference on behalf of a panel of experts, referring to the official explanation that cancer killed the famed writer.

Doubts emerged in 2011, when his former driver and personal assistant claimed Neruda was given a mysterious injection in his chest just before he died.

Pinochet, who ruled Chile for 17 years, installed a regime that killed some 3,200 leftist activists and other suspected opponents.

He died in 2006 at age 91 without ever being convicted for the crimes committed by his regime. — AFP

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