Autopsy confirms Allende suicide

2011-07-19 22:59

Santiago - A scientific autopsy has confirmed that Chilean President Salvador Allende committed suicide during the 1973 coup that toppled his socialist government, court officials announced on Tuesday.

British ballistics expert David Prayer said Allende died of two shots fired from an assault rifle that was held between his legs and under his chin and was set to fire automatically. The bullets blew out the top of his head and killed him instantly.

The forensics team's conclusion is unanimous, Spanish expert Francisco Etxeberria said: "We have absolutely no doubt" that Allende committed suicide.

Prayer said there were two bullets fired, two casings recovered and that there is no evidence a second person was involved in Allende's death. That ruled out theories that Allende, the first socialist in the Americas to come to power at the ballot box, was killed by the military as troops stormed the presidential palace during the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

Allende had said he wouldn't be taken alive even as Pinochet ordered an all-out attack on La Moneda. The palace was bombed by fighter jets and the air thick with tear gas and smoke as the building went up in flames.

Allende had ordered his allies to surrender, but he stayed behind. What happened next has always been shrouded in mystery.

The deposed president's body was exhumed in May for its first authoritative autopsy as Chile's independent judiciary began a criminal investigation into the death of Allende and hundreds of other victims of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Dr Patricio Bustos, who directs Chile's Medical Legal Service, announced the autopsy results, which he described as definitive. Ever since Allende's death, Chile's military has held that he committed suicide, while others, notably Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, wrote that Allende went down fighting. 

Castro's AK-47

Others more recently claimed he tried to kill himself but was only gravely wounded and was then killed by a bodyguard, who then died as well.

The experts also determined that Allende died using the AK-47 Castro had given him while visiting Chile two years earlier.

This autopsy supports the version of Dr Patricio Guijon, who had been part of Allende's medical team and said he alone happened to witness the death.

Guijon described those moments in an Associated Press interview just before the autopsy began. He said that with the palace in flames, Allende told the 30 to 40 people who had stayed with him that they would surrender together, and that he would take up the rear as they filed out.

Instead, the president slipped off alone to the palace's Independence Hall. Guijon, meanwhile, realised he had left his gas mask behind and went to retrieve it. It was then that he saw Allende through an open door, he said, just as the president's body jerked upwards with the force of the blast.

This was the second autopsy performed on Allende's cadaver. The first was done secretly and in irregular fashion by the military that night, before the body was quickly buried in a relative's crypt. Allende was eventually reburied with honours in Santiago, and his daughter Isabel, now a senator, had refused for years to allow another autopsy.

Now, however, she said it is a relief to know that science supports what the family has always believed.

"President Allende, on September 11 1973, faced with the extreme circumstances that he was living through, took the decision to end his life, rather than be humiliated," Allende said.

Before making the autopsy results public, the autopsy team met for several hours with Judge Mario Carroza, Senator Allende and a family lawyer to explain the conclusions.

Chile's Supreme Court has assigned Carroza to investigate Allende's death as well as that of 725 other people who were killed or disappeared during the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship.

- AP

Read more on:    salvador allende  |  chile
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Delft - 20:37 PM
    Road name: R300 Southbound
    ROADWORKS - left lane closed at Hindle Road
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.