Experts examining the remains of former Chilean leader Salvador Allende ruled out murder in the Marxist president's 1973 death, concluding that he committed suicide as soldiers involved in a coup burst into the presidential palace, the late leader's daughter said Tuesday.
Senator Isabel Allende said that the family received the news with great peace because the report conclusions are consistent with what we already believed.
On September 11, 1973, faced with extreme circumstances, he made the decision to take his own life instead of being humiliated the senator told reporters.
Patricio Bustos, who heads Chile's national coroner's office, said that experts confirmed the remains belonged to the ex-president by checking the teeth and running a DNA test. The team of Chilean and foreign experts, including specialists in ballistics, then concluded that his death was caused by a bullet wound and that it was a suicide.
Chile in May exhumed Salvador Allende's remains hoping to resolve a decades-old controversy over whether he committed suicide or was murdered during the coup that swept General Augusto Pinochet to power.
The official version was that the Chilean president killed himself with an assault rifle -- a gift from Cuban leader Fidel Castro -- as the La Moneda presidential palace was being bombed by Air Force planes and besieged by tanks and soldiers.
But neither the weapon nor bullets were recovered following his death. The Pinochet military regime prevented Allende's family from seeing his corpse after the coup. There was no criminal investigation into his death.
Most supporters claimed that Allende chose to commit suicide rather than surrender and be forced to resign. However Fidel Castro, other leftist leaders and some media outlets maintained that Allende was murdered by oncoming soldiers.
Salvador Allende was the first Marxist elected president of Chile in 1970. He was 65 at the time of his death.
Allende was warned of an impending coup on the morning of September 11, and showed up at the presidential palace dressed in a suit, wearing a helmet and carrying a rifle to coordinate the resistance, witnesses said.
A Chilean prosecutor announced the Allende inquiry in January, part of an investigation into 725 unresolved human rights complaints against Pinochet 1973-1990 military dictatorship. More than 3,100 people were either killed or are missing and presumed dead during the dictatorship years.
Chile is also probing the 1982 death of former president Eduardo Frei Montalva, who preceded Allende in office. Frei, president from 1964-1970, was emerging as a strong opponent to the Pinochet dictatorship when he was allegedly poisoned and died after visiting a hospital to treat a hernia.
In December 2009, six people -- the ex-leader's driver, his personal assistant and four doctors -- were charged in the case.