BBC NEWS (UK), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), SWISSINFO (Switzerland)
RAMALLAH - The remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed as part of an investigation to determine whether the Palestinian leader’s death in Paris in 2004 was the result of poisoning.
Swiss, French and Russian experts took samples from Arafat's corpse, which is buried in a mausoleum inside the Muqataa presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
[Arafat's grave in Ramallah - Photo: Copper Kettle]
In August, French magistrates opened a murder inquiry into Arafat’s death after a Swiss institute detected unusually high levels of radioactive polonium-210 (the same kind that killed former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006) on clothing supplied by the Palestinian leader’s widow, Suha, for a television documentary, Switzerland’s swissinfo.ch reports.
Suha Arafat objected to an autopsy at the time of her husband's death, but asked the Palestinian Authority to permit the exhumation "to reveal the truth," BBC News reports.
Al Jazeera sources said the remains of the first president of the Palestinian Authority have already been reburied. As the corpse was not fully removed from the grave, a reburial ceremony with full military honours was ultimately not deemed necessary.
[Arafat's Mausoleum in Ramallah - Photo: Kai Hendry]
Arafat died in November 2004 at a French military hospital, a month after suddenly falling ill at his Ramallah compound. The cause of his death has long remained a mystery, fueling conspiracy theories according to which Arafat was poisoned by Israel – although Israel has always denied any involvement in Arafat's death.