SANTIAGO – The remains of Chilean former President Eduardo Frei Montalva were exhumed Tuesday for a second time as part of a renewed investigation into his death 34 years ago at a clinic in Santiago.
“The next step is to take the samples to carry out the toxicological studies and everything (else) the court decides,” chief medical examiner Juan de Dios Reyes told the media.
Judge Alejandro Madrid has ordered that the samples be turned over to Spanish pathologist Aurelio Luna so the analysis can be conducted using “the more advanced technologies that exist at this moment in Europe.”
“They are technologies that didn’t exist at the time the previous tests were carried out,” the judge said, referring to the procedures that accompanied the first exhumation of Frei’s remains.
Frei Montalva, who governed from 1964-1970, died Jan. 22, 1982, at a Santiago clinic, ostensibly from an infection that developed after he underwent two operations to alleviate severe acid reflux.
But many suspected that Frei, a Christian Democrat then organizing opposition to the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was poisoned by agents of the junta’s ruthless secret police.
In 2004, Frei Montalva’s children, former Sen. Carmen Frei and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, who served as president from 1994-2000, persuaded the courts to open an investigation into their father’s death.
Tests done after the initial exhumation discovered “toxic substances” in Frei’s remains, leading Judge Madrid to declare his death a homicide.
Pinochet, who died in December 2006 of a heart attack, was never tried for the crimes of his government, which killed more than 3,000 people and tortured some 25,000 others.