Psychiatrist Edmundo Chirinos, who said that the late President Hugo Chavez had been one of his patients, was found dead at his home, where since March he had been serving a 20-year sentence for murder handed down in 2010.

The death from unknown causes of Chirinos, who had also been a presidential candidate, was announced Saturday in a Twitter posting by Universidad Central de Venezuela president Cecilia Garcia Arocha.

Chirinos denied the charges against him and said that the fact that Chavez and ex-Presidents Rafael Caldera and Jaime Lusinchi had been patients of his aroused the interest of the press in his case.

The 79-year-old psychiatrist, lecturer and 1988 presidential candidate was convicted on Sept. 29, 2010, of the July 2008 murder of a 19-year-old female university student who was his patient and whose body was found in a park with a fatal head wound.

In December 2011, Chirinos said in a letter he wrote to Chavez to ask him for a pardon that he was "very ill."

Among the evidence that factored strongly in Chirinos' conviction was the presence of the young woman's blood in his office and his automobile, as well as a blog she had written giving details about her alleged love relationship with the psychiatrist. EFE