Allende shot himself as Pinochet troops stormed the palace, confirms Chilean court
A Chilean court has confirmed that President Salvador Allende killed himself in 1973 as troops attacked the presidential palace to oust him. Official reports, accepted by his family, concluded that his death was suicide but his body was exhumed in 2011 to settle lingering doubts.
The court's ruling came as Chileans marked the anniversary of the 11 September coup, when troops under General Augusto Pinochet attacked the presidential palace with air force jets and tanks.
Inside was President Allende, the country's first left-wing leader. According to official accounts he shot himself as troops stormed the building.
The Allende family has always accepted this version. But some of his supporters suspected he had been killed by soldiers.
Last year, his family agreed to have his body exhumed so that an international team of experts could determine the cause of death. Their report concluded that Allende was killed by two bullets shot from a rifle set on automatic held between his legs. The gun used was a Kalashnikov, a gift from Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
On Tuesday, a Chilean appeals court closed the re-examination of his death, upholding the findings that it was suicide.
Allende introduced a number of economic reforms, including the nationalisation of the mining industry that angered the opposition and the US government of the time.
A series of strikes paralysed the country and left the capital isolated in the tense days that preceded the coup. General Pinochet with the support from the military and conservative civilians ruled for 17 years, marking a political and social division in Chilean society that persists until now.
The annual ritual of violence, rioting and even killings are evidence of the rift.