Former President Salvador Allende to be exhumed in Chile


An undated photo of former Chilean President Salvador Allende (1908-1973) speaking at the closing of the Chilean Communist Party's 5th anniversary.

A Chilean court has ruled that the remains of former President Salvador Allende will be exhumed to determine the cause of his death.

The exhumation is intended to determine if Allende killed himself or was assassinated by soldiers during the 1973 coup that brought former dictator Augusto Pinochet to power, BBC reports.

According to the official version of events, Allende killed himself after troops staged a coup on the presidential palace on Sept. 11, 1973. The autopsy then found that he committed suicide using a rifle given to him by his friend, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the Telegraph reports.

The family of the former leader asked for his remains to be exhumed in order to conduct a new autopsy, it states.

"We requested the exhumation and autopsy," his daughter, Isabel Allende, a senator in Chile's parliament, told BBC. "I think it's the most rigorous and definitive proof to clear up the causes of his death and we think this is going to be tremendously important."

The investigation into Allende's death is one of 726 alleged rights cases from the 17-year rule of Pinochet.

More than 3,000 political dissidents disappeared or were killed during Pinochet's rule. The former general died in 2006 without ever being convicted of a crime.

The exhumation will be carried out May 15.