Tests: No poison in Chilean poet Neruda's remains

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm •  Published: November 8, 2013
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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The four-decade mystery of whether Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda was poisoned was seemingly cleared up on Friday, when forensic test results showed no chemical agents in his bones. But his family and driver were not satisfied and said they'll request more proof.

Neruda died under suspicious circumstances in the chaos that followed Chile's 1973 military coup. The official version is that the poet died of cancer. But Neruda's former driver has said for years that dictatorship agents injected poison into the poet's stomach while he was bedridden at the Santa Maria clinic in Santiago.

Neruda's body was exhumed in April to determine the cause of his death.

"No relevant chemical substances have been found that could be linked to Mr. Neruda's death," Patricio Bustos, the head of Chile's medical legal service, said as he read the test results of the seven-month investigation by the 15-member forensic team.

Bustos said experts found traces of medicine used to treat cancer in Neruda's remains but that there's no forensic evidence to prove that Neruda died from anything else other than a natural cause.

The highly-anticipated results by the team of Chilean and international experts didn't satisfy Neruda's family members and friends who said the poet's case remains unsolved.

"The Neruda case doesn't close today," said Chilean Communist Party lawyer Eduardo Contreras. "Today we're 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 was a larger-than-life figure with an enormous passion for women, food and wine. He also enjoyed the company of friends who often visited the poet at his homes decorated with collections of everything from ship's figureheads to giant sea shells. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 after a prolific career, and he's still best known worldwide for his love poems.

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