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Chile plans to exhume famed poet Pablo Neruda

Famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is set to be exhumed soon as authorities hope to lay to rest questions about whether he died of prostate cancer, or was murdered by the Pinochet regime.

The poet died at the age of 69 on Sept. 23, 1973, a mere 12 days after Augusto Pinochet rose to power in a fiery coup. His assistant and driver alleges that Neruda did not die of prostate cancer, but was in fact poisoned by the regime at a medical center.

Preparations for the exhumation began on April 7, and the tomb was set to be opened on Monday, with police investigators and forensic experts attending the scene, according to AFP.

"We started with the digging, and we are getting close to the tombstone,"said investigating Judge Mario Carroza to Al Jazeera on Sunday.

The exhumation comes after the Chilean Communist Party, to which Neruda belonged, filed an official complaint alleging that the poet's death came about a result of foul play.

Investigators will attempt to look for signs of cancer and toxic substances in the long-buried remains of the poet, although conclusive results in the case are by no means guaranteed, says the BBC.

"Until the day I die I will not alter my story," said former personal assistant Manuel Araya to the BBC of Neruda's death, which is listed as prostate cancer on his birth certificate.

"Neruda was murdered. They didn't want Neruda to leave the country so they killed him," Araya claims.

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Neruda was buried at the Isla Negra residence next to his wife, Matilde Urrutia.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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Pablo Neruda during a Library of Congress recording session, 20 June 1966.