Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to be exhumed April 8 to determine cause of death

SANTIAGO, (AFP) - The remains of Chilean Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda will be exhumed on April 8 to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned, a judicial source told AFP.

The leftist, who died 12 days after the 1973 military coup that ousted socialist president Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, was long believed to have died of prostate cancer. But officials in 2011 started looking into the possibility he was poisoned by agents of the Pinochet regime, as claimed by Neruda's driver.

The exhumation was ordered last month by Judge Mario Carroza, but no specific date had been made public.

Neruda is buried next to his wife Matilde Urrutia in Isla Negra, 120km west of the capital Santiago. He 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 a probe in June 2011 after a complaint was filed by the Chilean Communist Party. The complaint came after Neruda's driver, Mr Manuel Araya, declared publicly that Pinochet agents poisoned Neruda while he was hospitalised with cancer.

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