Arabs hold poster of terrorist Yasser Arafat
Arabs hold poster of terrorist Yasser ArafatReuters

Around 60 samples were taken from the remains of the late Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat for a probe into whether he was poisoned by polonium, a Swiss newspaper reported Sunday, quoting a lead investigator.

The samples were distributed among three teams doing separate analyses eight years after Arafat's death in a French hospital, Patrice Mangin told Le Matin Dimanche, according to AFP.

According to the report, only a Palestinian Authority pathologist was permitted to touch the body when Arafat's grave was opened on Tuesday in the city of Ramallah.

He was able to "take all the samples that were wanted, around 60 in total," said Mangin, the director of the Swiss University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, adding that the investigation would take three or four months.

Speaking shortly after the exhumation process was completed, Tawfiq Tirawi, who heads the PA investigation into Arafat's death, said Ramallah would petition the International Criminal Court in The Hague if it found proof that the veteran leader was poisoned.

The French probe was opened in late August at the request of Arafat's widow Suha, who had refused to give her permission for an autopsy at the time of his death. A Russian investigative team was also appointed by the Palestinian Authority.

After falling ill at the age of seventy-five, Arafat was flown by helicopter out of his headquarters in October 2004 and transferred to a French military hospital where he died about two weeks later of unannounced causes.

Due to the indeterminate cause of death, the Arab world quickly resorted to placing the blame on Israel, alleging that abnormal amounts of polonium, a radioactive substance, were found on Arafat's personal effects.

Arafat’s death records show, however, that he had died of a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an underlying infection. The hospital found no traces of poisons. Arafat's doctor. Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, said in an Al Jazeera interview two years after Arafat's death that the cause was AIDS.