Int’l experts set to investigate Neruda's death

SANTIAGO: A new team formed by 13 Chilean and international experts is to carry out forensic studies on the remains of renowned poet and Noble Prize winner for literature Pablo Neruda, to determine if a third party was involved in his death, legal sources has said.

The group of experts from Chile, Spain, the US, Denmark and Canada will work to clarify the origin of the so-called ‘Staphyylococcus aureus’ bacteria detected in the poet’s remains, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The experts will try to explain the DNA of this bacteria to find the source. It is important to know if it was inoculated by a third party,” said Rodrigo Lledo, head of the legal department within the Interior Ministry’s Programme for Human Rights on October 2.

The author of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and many other poems died on September 23, 1973 in Santa Maria Hospital.

The official record showed he had died of prostate cancer. His death came just days after the coup d’etat, headed by General Augusto Pinochet, overthrew former socialist President Salvador Allende.

Neruda’s assistant and driver, Manuel Araya, reaffirmed in May 2011, claiming that Neruda was assassinated by agents from the Pinochet regime.

Doubts came to light after newspaper reports caused Chile to initiate legal proceedings in 2011 in the hope of getting to the bottom of the poet’s true cause of death.

Neruda’s remains were exhumed in April 2013 for investigation. In November 2013, after six months of tests, a panel of international experts concluded that there was no evidence of poison in the poet’s body.

However, doubts about the interpretation of their conclusions remained due to the presence of the bacteria, because of which a new investigation was opened this time.

“With all this historical information pointing to direct intervention from a third party, we, Chileans and family members, want to know the real cause of Neruda’s death,” said Rodolfo Reyes, Neruda’s nephew.