Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda
The remains of famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda are to be exhumed as part of an inquest into his 1973 death.

Chilean judge Mario Carroza has ordered the exhumation although the family of Nobel Prize-winning poet maintains that he died of prostate cancer at the age of 69.

Neruda died nearly two weeks after his close friend President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

In 2011, Chile opened a probe into allegations that Communist Neruda might have been poisoned. The investigation was launched after Neruda's former driver Manuel Araya Osorio claimed that the poet had been injected with poison in a clinic by Pinochet's agents.

Osorio has claimed that Neruda was ordered killed by Pinochet so that he could not travel to Mexico where he was expected to form an anti-Pinochet front.

"For years, I knocked on doors and no one listened to me. I always thought I would die without this truth being known," the former driver was quoted as saying.

No date has been fixed for the exhumation of the renowned poet who is buried 120km (70 miles) west of Santiago.

However, the foundation looking after Neruda's legacy maintained that the Chilean poet died of cancer.

In 1969, Neruda's presidential bid was approved by the Chilean Communist Party. A few months later, he dropped his candidacy.

Neruda, whose real name was Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, is best known for his love poems. He took the pen name in memory of Jan Neruda, the renowned Czech poet.

During Pinochet's military rule, which lasted up to 1990, Neruda's writings were banned.