Yasir Arafat’s remains exhumed in Ramallah

Yasir Arafat's tomb on Tuesday with entrances covered by tarpaulin (Photo: AP)

Yasir Arafat's tomb on Tuesday with entrances covered by tarpaulin (Photo: AP)

The remains of former president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat, have been exhumed in Ramallah as part of an ongoing investigation into how he died.

Samples were removed from the body by a Palestinian doctor on Tuesday, with the team of Swiss, French and Russian scientists who will examine the samples were standing by to supervise.

The team of scientists are testing the remains for signs of radioactive poisoning as part of a French-led investigation, which was launched when a Swiss research team claimed to have found above average levels of polonium-210 on Mr Arafat’s personal effects in August.

The exhumation process was carried out in secrecy, with the gates of the compound in Ramallah in the West Bank concealed by blue covers. A full military reburial was planned, but has not been deemed necessary as the body did not have to be removed from the ground.

Arafat died in hospital in Paris in 2004 aged 75 and his medical records state that he died from a massive stroke due to an unknown infection. The Swiss institute that carried out the radioactive tests earlier this year stated that Mr Arafat’s symptoms, as described in his medical records, were not consistent with polonium-210 poisoning.

The investigation will look at the allegation that the PLO leader was poisoned by the Israeli state. His widow, Suha, says she hopes the exhumation will “reveal the truth”.

Last updated: 5:14pm, November 27 2012