‘60 samples taken from Yasser Arafat’s body’
West Bank: It has been eight years since the death of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, but the political mystery behind his death has not been solved yet.
75 year-old Arafat’s death in French hospital in November 2004 became a matter of controversy, who, is allegedly said to be killed by polonium poisoning.
Five days after his body was exhumed from his grave in the West Bank city of Ramallah, it has been reported that around 60 samples were taken from the bones of the late Palestinian leader for a probe into whether he was poisoned by polonium.
As per a Swiss newspaper report, the samples were distributed among three teams doing separate analysis. During the exhumation process, a Palestinian pathologist was the only person allowed to touch Arafat's body.
The director of the Swiss University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne said, “He was able to take all the samples that were wanted, around 60 in total. The investigation would take three or four months.”
The remains were taken from Arafat's mausoleum and moved to a mosque near the tomb in the Palestinian presidency's Ramallah headquarters.
In a quest to unravel the mystery behind Arafat’s death, a French team is carrying out a separate probe at the request of his widow Suha, while a Russian team was appointed by the Palestinian authority.
Meanwhile, Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian committee investigating Arafat's death, said that Ramallah would petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague if it found proof that the veteran leader was poisoned.
The entire process of exhumation was carried out in a strict secrecy with Tawfiq Tirawi not allowing any journalist to be present at the spot.
After the exhumation process was carried out, the late leader's body was reburied without any military honours.
The Palestinian authorities’ decision to exhume Arafat’s remains and start an investigation came when earlier this year, Swiss experts tested Arafat's personal belongings provided his widow Suha, and detected Polonium 210 - a lethal radioactive substance.
After a renewed investigation into his death, Mrs Suha Arafat called the former Palestinian leader's death "the most important mystery of the Middle East."
Palestinian officials claim he was poisoned by Israel, which has denied the allegations.
(With agency input)