Judge: Chile Must Investigate Neruda's Death

Communist party suspects famous poet was killed in coup
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2011 11:40 AM CDT
This Oct. 21, 1971 file photo shows Pablo Neruda, poet and then Chilean ambassador to France, talk with reporters in Paris after being named the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature.   (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)

(Newser) – A Chilean judge has ordered an investigation into the death of Pablo Neruda, giving authorities license to examine police, witness, and medical records. The Nobel laureate died in 1973, just 12 days after a right-wing military coup overthrew Chile’s government. His official cause of death is listed as prostate cancer, but the Communist Party, of which the poet was a member, has asked for an investigation, CNN reports.

“We are not accusing anybody, a priori,” says the party’s president. “What we want is the courts to fully clarify the situation.” One human rights lawyer says the local media reports of Neruda’s death don’t jive with his death certificate, and adds, “Without a doubt, Neruda in exile would have been something very difficult for the dictatorship.”

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