Arafat not completely exhumed

Nov. 27, 2012 at 8:51 AM
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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The panel investigating the death of Yasser Arafat said they did not have to completely exhume the former Palestinian leader to take samples from his corpse.

A statement issued by committee head Gen. Tawfiq al-Tirawi Tuesday said forensic experts unanimously agreed that tissue samples could be obtained without complete exhumation of Arafat's body, Gulf News reported.

"As Arafat's body was not pulled out or moved from its place, there will be no [need] for the re-burial ceremony," al-Tirawi said.

He said he would outline the procedures that were used to take the samples at a news conference.

Tissue samples from the former Palestinian leader were taken as part of an investigation to determine the cause of his death, officials said.

Eight years after his death, scientists from France, Switzerland and Russia took samples of his remains to determine whether Arafat's death was the result of poisoning. France initiated a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts reported traces of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects, the BBC said.

"Samples will be taken according to a very strict protocol and these samples will be analyzed ... in order to do these analyses, to check, cross check and double cross check, it will take several months and I don't think we will have anything tangible available before March or April next year," Darcy Christen, a spokesman for the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency.

Arafat died in a Paris hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, and was buried in a stone mausoleum in the Muqata or presidential compound in Ramallah.

Arafat's wife, Suha, opposed conducting a post-mortem at the time of her husband's death but agreed to the exhumation in order "to reveal the truth," the BBC said.

"We are convinced Israel assassinated Arafat ... and no matter what the results given by Russia, Swiss and French experts will be, the case will remain open," Tirawi told WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency Tuesday.

Media were barred from covering the exhumation, WAFA reported.

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