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South America

Chile exhumes remains of poet Pablo Neruda

Chilean officials have exhumed the remains of Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda, who died in 1973. People close to Neruda believe the Pinochet regime was behind his death.

Neruda's remains were successful exhumed Monday, almost four decades after his death, following claims that the writer may have been poisoned.

"Once the doubt has been brought to the table, I think it is extremely important to settle it," said Judge Mario Carroza, who was in charge of the case.

Neruda had been buried next to his third wife Matilde Urrutia at Neruda's tomb, on the grounds of his home in the seaside town of Isla Negra. His remains are to be taken to Santiago for testing

It was unclear how long forensic experts would be conducting the analysis before releasing the cause of death.

How did Chilean poet Pablo Neruda die?

The official cause of the author's death was prostate cancer, but allegations of foul play from Neruda's former driver and Chile's Communist Party led to the reopening of the case in 2011.

Manuel Araya - who worked as the author's chauffeur and secretary - had maintained that the author's death in 1973 was the result of poisoning, a claim which the Communist Party took the court.

Neruda died almost two weeks after General Augost Pinochet's regime took power in Chile following a coup. According to Araya, the author - then convalescing in Santiago's Santa Maria Hospital - received a suspicious injection shortly before passing away.

The leftist poet belonged to the Communist Party and openly supported socialist President Salvador Allende, whose government was toppled during the 1973 coup.

Pablo Neruda was born in 1904. The famed Chilean author became best known for his love poems and epic poem about South America's history, "Canto General." In 1971, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

kms, ccp/msh (AFP, dpa)

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