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Chile will investigate Pablo Neruda's death -- again

Chile will investigate Pablo Neruda's death -- again
Pablo Neruda, serving as Chilean ambassador to France when he was announced as winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971. His death two years later remains under scrutiny. (Laurent Rebours / Associated Press)

The body of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda will be exhumed, again, to determine if the poet may have been poisoned.

Longstanding suspicions about the author's death led to his exhumation in 2013. No poison was found then, but further tests are now planned.

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Neruda died just 12 days after the coup that put authoritarian leader Augusto Pinochet in power in 1973. A high-profile writer and political activist, Neruda had been a supporter of President Salvador Allende, who was deposed and died during the coup.

For many years, Neruda's driver has maintained that the writer complained to him of feeling ill after being given an injection in the stomach. The official cause of death was recorded as prostate cancer.

The doctor who sat at Neruda's bedside remains a mystery man. "All we know is that Dr. Draper turned over this shift to a Dr. Price, who was a young man of about 27, with blue eyes and very well mannered," a lawyer for Neruda's family said in 2013, "but beyond that we don't know anything because there's no Price in the registry of doctors who worked in that hospital."

The BBC reports that the new forensic tests "will be looking for inorganic or heavy metals to try to determine a direct or indirect cause of death."

Book news and more; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

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