SANTIAGO, Chile - Chilean judicial officials vowed Thursday to investigate the death of President Salvador Allende for the first time, 37 years after the socialist leader was found shot through the head with a machine-gun during a withering attack on the presidential palace.
Allende died during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who governed as a dictator until March 11, 1990, and died in 2006. Authorities have never before opened a criminal probe of Allende's death, which many believe to have been a suicide.
Chile's truth commission reported in 1991 that the Pinochet dictatorship killed 3,797 people. Most of those cases have been investigated, leading to human rights trials for some 600 military figures and a small number of civilian collaborators. About 150 have been convicted, including feared secret police chief Miguel Contreras, now imprisoned for dozens of crimes against humanity.
But 726 deaths were never investigated, including Allende's.
Beatriz Pedrals, a prosecutor in the appellate court in Santiago, said she decided to probe all the cases arising from the truth commission report that were never prosecuted.I think we're the only country obsessed with looking forward and not back -- we're certainly prone to letting the powerful off the hook for human rights abuses.