Chilean state television has reported that newly disclosed military documents support the theory that president Salvador Allende may have been assassinated during the 1973 coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.
Monday’s report was broadcast days after Chilean authorities exhumed the late president’s remains to determine the circumstances surrounding his death. Allende’s family requested an investigation to determine whether the elected president committed suicide or was killed during the coup on Sept. 11, 1973.
Allende’s daughter, Isabel, now a Chilean senator, has called the investigation tremendously important because she says it could dispel any doubts or speculation about how the president died. The exhumation is part of a widespread inquiry into 726 alleged abuses during the rule of Pinochet.
President Allende was found dead in the presidential palace as soldiers supporting the coup closed in and warplanes bombed the building. Official reports said he had killed himself.
His family was not allowed to see the body and there was no official investigation at the time of his death.
Questions arose shortly after the coup about how Allende died. A physician who was a member of Allende’s medical team, Patricio Guijon, says he witnessed the president commit suicide with an AK-47 given to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Guijon has said that by the time Allende committed suicide, the presidential palace had been rocked by hours of bombings and machine gun fire.
Pinochet died in 2006 while under investigation for alleged corruption, torture and murder. His government is blamed for at least 3,000 killings of political opponents, including murders of those who disappeared.