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Allende committed suicide, autopsy finds

The Chilean leader’s body was exhumed in May of this year. The Chilean leader’s body was exhumed in May of this year.
Associated Press / July 20, 2011

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SANTIAGO, Chile - A scientific autopsy has confirmed that President Salvador Allende of Chile committed suicide during the 1973 coup that toppled his socialist government, court officials announced yesterday.

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 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 and 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.

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.

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