by Pascale Bonnefoy M. (Lea el artículo original en español aquí)
- READ MORE: Military Courts: Execute first, judge second
technical report released today (July 19, 2011) by an international team of forensic, ballistics experts and anthropologists who worked under the auspices of the Servicio Médico Legal (SML) to determine the cause of death of former President Salvador Allende.the death of Allende is a controversial case with conflicting interpretations, we believe it is important to provide the
The report concludes that Allende committed suicide in La Moneda on September 11, 1973, in the context of the military coup and bombing of the presidential palace. The report also supports the validity of the conclusions of a first autopsy performed by thanatologists under the supervision of the new military authorities.
The death of the former Chilean president remained without judicial investigation for almost 38 years–17 years of the military regime plus 21 years of democratic government.
The first autopsy, performed at the Military Hospital on the same day of the coup, has never been universally accepted as decisive, due to the real possibility of misrepresentation by the military who supervised it and the fact that it was kept secret, leaking unofficially only a few years ago. Only this year, Judge Mario Carroza commissioned the SML, backed by an international team, to determine the definitive cause of death of the former president.
Based on the version of a witness, Allende’s doctor, who said he saw Allende moments after he took his own life, his relatives and close friends have said they are certain that Allende took his own life, and was not killed in combat or by the military in the presidential palace, as some have speculated. The suicide version was also questioned by a Chilean thanatologist, Dr. Luis Ravanal, who made an analysis of the first autopsy and argued that there was evidence of a second gunshot.
That thesis was flatly discarded in this report. The document states that there was only one entrance and exit wound, from the jaw and with the weapon practically resting on it, with only one trajectory towards the upper part of the skull. There is no evidence of other orifices or trajectories.
However, the report admits the possibility of two shots in sequence from the same weapon, an AK-47 rifle, set in automatic firing position. According to the study made by the police at the scene in 1973, there were two bullet impacts on the wall behind the corpse. In this regard, the report delivered today indicates:
“The fresh autopsy of the corpse documented a single entry with a single exit of a firearm projectile. But, from the ballistic analysis and the study of the scene, the doubt arose as to whether or not the head or face could have been compromised by a second firearm projectile. Although a second firearm projectile that could be related was never recovered, neither in the scene nor in the body, some wounds in the face described in the Autopsy Protocol and the study of the site of the event have given rise to the hypothesis of the passage of another firearm projectile through the craniofacial structures. No such doubt is raised in the first autopsy nor are any injuries described therein suggesting the possibility of the passage of a second high velocity firearm projectile: another exit in the face can be ruled out due to the absence of a large exit wound in the face…”
The ballistic expert report of February 25, 1974 cited in this report indicated “the existence of two projectile impacts on the east wall and the presence of two bullet casings of the same type and caliber, both fired by the same weapon and found close to each other, near the south door, allowing us to suppose the possibility of two shots fired in short succession. This hypothesis has only a ballistic deduction, since the autopsy report does not state this possibility, although it does not exclude it either.”
If there was a second projectile, the report notes, it occurred during the same shot and followed with a difference of milliseconds a similar trajectory.
“The damage observed in the skull is caused in a single event, which could have involved one or several projectiles (Ballistics Report): if there was a second firearm projectile, the trajectories were closely consecutive and superimposed, both projectiles following the same trajectory already described -mandible, anterior fossa, brain and parietal calota”, it states.
The analysis also ruled out the participation of third parties in Allende’s death. “No signs of trauma other than head trauma were found. All the analysis performed is consistent with a medico-legal form of suicide death. The findings of the study, carried out on this occasion by multidisciplinary team, show no inconsistencies with the data provided by the 1973 autopsy performed on the fresh corpse.” Among the most recent versions is that Allende tried to commit suicide, failed, and one of the comrades who were with him gave him the coup de grace shot.
The report delivered today considered as background the autopsy protocol 2449/73 done on Allende in 1973, the external medical examination of the corpse at the site of the event conducted by the Homicide Squad of the Investigative Police in 1973, and the analysis of the chemical and physical forensic lab of the Policía Técnica, on the same date and photographs taken of President Allende’s corpse in the Otorhinolaryngology ward of the Military Hospital of Santiago, available in the file in poor quality black and white photocopies.
The remains of the former president were exhumed last May from the General Cemetery of Santiago and have since been subjected to anthropological-forensic, genetic, dental and ballistic examinations.
Primarily, the report confirms the identity of the exhumed remains through anthropological, genetic and dental expertise. After the military coup, Allende was buried in a sealed urn in a family grave in Viña del Mar, without his relatives being able to see the body. Later, in 1990, his remains were exhumed and transferred to the General Cemetery in Santiago.
The first autopsy on Allende was performed by the thanatologists Dr. Tomás Tobar and José Luis Vásquez at the Military Hospital.
The forensic team of the SML that participated in the analysis of Salvador Allende’s remains was composed of the following persons:
Marisol Intriago Leiva, anthropologist, in charge of Forensic Identification Unit of the SML.
Germán Tapia Coppa, medical examiner
Ángel Medina Bejarano, physical anthropologist
Isabel Martínez Armijo, archeologist
Agustín Hernández Canihuante, forensic photographer
Douglas Ubelaker, physical anthropologist (USA)
Mary Luz Morales, medical pathologist (Colombia)
David Pryor, ballistic expert (England)
Jorge Pinares Toledo, forensic dentist
Edgar Rueda Guevara, forensic dentist
Expert designated by the Allende family:
Francisco Etxeberría Gabilondo, medical examiner (Spain)
Felipe Donoso, Regional Representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the Southern Cone of America.
- Investigation Overview: The Bureaucracy of Death – Executions in Chile 1973
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (I): Bodies at dawn
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (II): “Cursory autopsies”
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (III): From the morgue to the cemetery
- Political Executions: 150 new cases?
- Crossed identities and bodies without names at the Registro Civil
- The black hole of the military prosecutors’ offices
- Military Courts: Execute first, judge second
- Wartime Tribunals: Absolute authority
- The silence of the cemetery
- The strange case of the two Luis Curivils
- Victor Jara and Littré Quiroga
- Bodies floating in the Mapocho River
- Allende suicide: Forensic reports July 19, 2011