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Arafat's Remains to be Exhumed for Autopsy

The remains of late PLO arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat will be exhumed for study following Swiss laboratory results hinting he was poisoned.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 7/4/2012, 4:22 PM

Officials in Ramallah said Wednesday they will allow the exhumation of late PLO arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat's remains for an autopsy.

The former PA leader died at a military hospital outside Paris in November 2004 of what French doctors called a massive brain hemorrhage, just weeks after he fell violently ill at his headquarters in Ramallah.

At the time of his death at the age of 75, officials in Ramallah charged he had been poisoned by longtime foe Israel, but an inconclusive PA investigation in 2005 ruled out cancer, AIDS or poisoning.

However, French officials are restricted by privacy laws and have refused to reveal the precise cause of death or the nature of his condition, fuelling a host of rumors and theories as to the cause of his illness.

The decision to exhume Arafat's remains came following Swiss laboratory findings that suggest his 2004 death may have been the result of radiation poisoning.

"If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her husband (we need) to find a sample - I mean, an exhumation... should provide us with a sample that should have a very high quantity of polonium if he was poisoned," Francois Bochud, head of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne, told Al-Jazeera.

Arafat's widow, Suha, called for the autopsy after Bochud's discovered elevated levels of Polonium-210 in fluid samples found on belongings the former PA leader is said to have used in his final days. The Swiss lab that conducted the tests did so at her request.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmud Abbas said July 4 he is willing to permit further testing.