Yasser Arafat's body will be exhumed, the Palestinian National Authority agrees, in order to explore allegations that he was poisoned with polonium-210.
The Palestinian National Authority agreed to the exhumation of the body of the former Palestinian leader after swiss scientists found "surprisingly" high levels of the radioactive element on the late Palestinian leader's clothes.
Clothing had been provided by Mr Arafat's widow Suha to the Swiss "Institut de Radiophysique", which discovered the polonium levels. However Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institut in Lausanne, told Reuters that the clinical symptoms in Mr Arafat's medical reports were not consistent with polonium-210 and no conclusions could yet be drawn as to whether he had been poisoned or not.
Suha Arafat requested Mr Arafat's remains be brought up for autopsy from his limestone mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah. A spokesman for the Palestinian National Authority confirmed the request had been approved.
"The Authority, as it always has been, is ready to completely cooperate with and clear the way for an investigation into the true causes leading to the martyrdom of the late president," said Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman to Arafat's successor as Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
A date has not been given for the exhumation.
A suspicious death?
Arafat died in 2004 following a long period of illness. In his final days he was treated by French doctors who said they could not establish a cause of death.
French officials have refused to give details of the nature of his illness, citing privacy laws.
The decision will stir up old Palestinian suspicions that Israel was responsible for Arafat's death. Arafat's death came four years into a Palestinian uprising against Israel after years of talks had failed to lead to a Palestinian state.
Israel has denied involvement in Arafat's death and said the onus was on the Palestinians to discover the truth.
Avi Dichter, head of Israel's Shin Bet domestic intelligence service at the time, told Israel's Army Radio: "The body is in their hands. It is in Ramallah and really, all the keys are in their hands."
What is polonium-210?
Polonium hit the headlines in 2006 when it was discovered to have caused the slow death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London.
Polonium is a naturally occurring material that emits highly hazardous alpha radiation. At high doses the substance will damage tissue and organs.
26 June 2012
11 November 2011