'No poison found' in Chile poet Pablo Neruda's remains

Emily Thomas reports: ''Four decades of suspicion hang over Pablo Neruda's death''

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No traces of poison have been found in the remains of Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, forensic experts say.

The results were announced after more than six months of tests by 15 Chilean and foreign experts.

The left-wing poet died in 1973, days after the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.

His body was exhumed in April to establish whether he died of poisoning, as his driver and others suspected.

Neruda, who died aged 69, was a close friend of ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende.

Start Quote

A very important chapter has closed and was done very seriously but this is not over”

End Quote Eduardo Contreras Chilean Communist Party lawyer

"No traces of chemical agents have been found," said Patricio Bustos, director of the Chilean Forensic Service, on Friday.

Mr Bustos confirmed that Neruda's remains seemed to support the official line that he had died of cancer.

Suspicions

However, Friday's highly-anticipated results did not satisfy everyone.

"The Neruda case doesn't close today," said Chilean Communist Party lawyer Eduardo Contreras.

"Today we are going to request more samples. They referred to chemical agents but there are no studies about biological agents. A very important chapter has closed and was done very seriously but this is not over."

Neruda and President Salvador Allende (undated image) Neruda was a friend of ousted Chilean leader Salvador Allende, left

Neruda's driver and personal assistant, Manuel Araya, had maintained that the poet was poisoned.

Mr Araya said Neruda had called him from hospital, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.

Chile began investigating Mr Araya's allegations in 2011.

The suspicions were backed by the Chilean Communist Party, which said Neruda did not exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the advanced prostate cancer he was said to have died of.

They said that the military government feared Neruda would go into exile in Mexico and campaign against the Pinochet regime.

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