Arafat body to be exhumed on Tuesday in murder inquiry

RAMALLAH Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:04pm IST

A Palestinian woman walks past a mural depicting late leader Yasser Arafat (R) in Gaza City July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/Files

A Palestinian woman walks past a mural depicting late leader Yasser Arafat (R) in Gaza City July 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem/Files

Related Topics

RAMALLAH (Reuters) - The body of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed on Tuesday, eight years after his death, in an investigation to establish if he was murdered, a Palestinian official said on Saturday.

A French court opened a murder inquiry in August into Arafat's death in Paris after a Swiss institute said it had discovered high levels of radioactive polonium on his clothing, which was supplied by his widow, Suha.

Tawfiq al-Tirawi, in charge of the Palestinian committee overseeing the investigation, told reporters in Ramallah on Saturday "it is a painful necessity" to exhume the body of Arafat, who came to symbolise the Palestinian quest for statehood throughout decades of war and peace with Israel.

Tirawi said the Palestinians had "evidence which suggests Arafat was assassinated by Israelis". Israel denies any involvement.

The exhumation and renewed allegations of Israeli involvement could stir further tension between the Palestinians and Israel, which are observing a truce after a week of fierce fighting in Gaza.

Any positive results for polonium could rekindle Palestinian hostility toward Israel and suspicions that a local collaborator may have poisoned him under directions from the Jewish state.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise. He died in a Paris hospital in November 2004, a month after being flown, seriously ill, from his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death, and no autopsy was performed in deference to his widow's request at the time, when Arafat died at 75.

Eight years is considered a limit to detect any traces of the deadly radioactive substance, according to the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics.

Tirawi said Arafat's body would be exhumed from its limestone mausoleum in Ramallah, away from the public or media presence, and separate samples will be taken by the French and Swiss forensic teams, as well as a Russian team of experts, who the Palestinians invited to help with the examination.

After the investigation "the body of leader Abu Ammar will be returned (reburied) in a military ceremony that is befitting him as a leader of the Palestinian people", Tirawi said, using Arafat's non de guerre.

Tirawi said results could take up to several months to be announced.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-Pakistan Ties

REUTERS SHOWCASE

IS in India

IS in India

India says Islamic State not yet a threat  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

India to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak  Full Article 

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad restaurant bombs kill 21  Full Article 

Diwali Pollution

Diwali Pollution

Delhi braces for worst air quality this Diwali week  Full Article 

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong students put their case to govt, but no breakthrough  Full Article 

Npeal Disaster

Npeal Disaster

Death toll in Nepal's worst trekking disaster reaches 43  Full Article 

West Indies Trouble

West Indies Trouble

West Indies board meet for crisis talks after India legal threat  Full Article 

Renta Remembered

Renta Remembered

Oscar de la Renta remembered for his elegant designs, generosity  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage