Chile's ex-president Allende to be exhumed

Le président chilien, Salvador Allende, en 1973.
Le président chilien, Salvador Allende, en 1973. Reuters/Stringer

The body of Chile's former president Salvador Allende is to be exhumed 38 years after he died in a military coup to determine whether he took his own life or was murdered on orders from General Augusto Pinochet. Chilean judge Mario Carroza ordered the disinterment after a request from Allende relatives and says it is due to take place in the second half of May. 


Allende's death, during the bloody military coup that brought Pinochet to power in September 1973, has been ruled a suicide, although this has often been questioned by some politicians and human rights groups.

Allende's own family increasingly believe he committed suicide. His daughter, socialist MP Isabel Allende told the American TV channel CNN, that the family had not changed their mind on the ruling, but want there to be a criminal investigation into his death.

"We think it is extremely important for the country and the world, that we legally establish the causes and circumstances of his death, which occurred under extreme violence," she said.

The exhumation is a logical extension of an investigation, announced by a Chilean prosecutor in January, into the death of Allende as well as 725 other unprobed human rights complaints against Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship.

Allende's remains will be removed from his marble tomb in Santiago and a new autopsy will be performed by experts at the Legal Medical Service.

The president's body underwent an autopsy at the Santiago Military hospital hours after his death on 11 September at La Moneda, the presidential palace, which was under aerial bombardment and a ground assault at the time. It was found he died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

A respected medical examiner, Luis Ravanal, raised doubts about Allende's death in a 2008 report in which he stated that on the basis of the 1973 autopsy, Allende's injuries were not consistent with a self-inflicted injury.



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