London: It is now being claimed by prosecutors that one of South America`s most celebrated poets, Pablo Neruda, who died in 1973 at the age of 69, may have been murdered on the orders of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.
According to The Independent, prosecutors have been investigating the case since 2011 after the poet`s driver, Manuel Araya, alleged that Neruda was killed, and said the latter did not die of cancer, but was poisoned while being treated. Neruda was a member of the Communist Party, a politician and a diplomat under President Salvador Allende. Twelve days after Pinochet seized power in a military coup, Neruda`s death was announced. Araya said the poet was given unscheduled injection just hours before his death, after which he called him from the hospital and said he was feeling sick.
In April this year, the poet`s body was exhumed at his home in Chile`s Pacific Coast, owing to growing suspicions about his death not being natural. Lawyer Eduardo Contreras said that according to fresh evidence, the poet had been ``silenced`` as he was going to campaign against the Pinochet regime that saw the disappearance of 3,000 people with the help of death squads.
Dr Sergio Draper, who had earlier testified that he was with the poet at the time of his death, now claims that another doctor named Prince was with Neruda. However, records make no mention of any such doctor by that name at that time. According to the report, the prosecutors said that the description of Doctor Prince as mentioned by Dr. Draper matched to that of Michael Townley, a CIA double agent, who worked with the Chilean secret police under Pinochet.
The forensic examination of Neruda`s body is being conducted by Chilean and international forensic scientists to certify claims of poisoning. Patricio Bustos Streeter, director of Chile`s Legal Medical Service, said toxins could be traced from the spongy part of the bone marrow, and added that the team had an advantage, as techniques to mask the toxins in the body did not exist four decades ago.