Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat AFP/File

A Swiss laboratory team has arrived in Ramallah to prepare for the exhumation of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, PA sources told AFP on Monday.

The team, along with French investigators, is expected to participate in Arafat’s exhumation on November 26, as part of a new investigation into the circumstances of the late leader’s 2004 death.

The delegation from the Institute of Radiation Physics at Switzerland’s University of Lausanne arrived on Monday, sources told AFP, adding that they met with the PA's health minister Hani Abdeen and justice minister Ali Mhanna.

The team also held talks with Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the commission that investigated Arafat’s death, “to discuss next steps” and visited the Ramallah mausoleum that houses Arafat’s grave.

France opened a murder enquiry into Arafat’s death in late August, after his family launched legal action following reports he may have died from radioactive polonium near Paris in 2004. This was suggested in an Al-Jazeeranews investigation in which Swiss experts said they found high levels of radioactive polonium on his personal effects.

Arafat's family has agreed to the exhumation of his remains for testing, though his nephew has said that he opposes plans to exhume Arafat’s body, favoring instead an international commission of enquiry.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance rarely found outside military and scientific circles.

Last week, French officials confirmed that criminal investigators will order to exhume Arafat's body to try to discover the cause of his death.