Yasser Arafat's remains exhumed

  • The remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed as part of an investigation to determine how the Palestinian leader died.

    Earlier today, Swiss, French and Russian experts were given samples to establish whether his death in Paris in 2004 was the result of poisoning before the body was reinterred and the tomb resealed.

    Arafat's medical records say he had a stroke due to a blood disorder.

    However, France opened a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts working with a documentary film crew found radioactive polonium-210 on Arafat's personal effects.

    Chief investigator Taufik al Tirawi said they had recently asked Russia to help in the investigation as they had "an historical relationship" with Moscow.

    According to political analysts, the Palestinians seem to not trust France and Switzerland with regards to proving or disproving that Arafat was murdered.

    The investigation is expected to take several months.

    Most Palestinians are convinced their leader was murdered but there are doubts over the legitimacy of testing for polonium poisoning eight years after Arafat's death. The half-life of polonium is less than five months.

    His tomb, in Ramallah in the West Bank, was sealed off earlier this month.

    Once his body is removed from the tomb in Ramallah in the West Bank, scientists from France, Switzerland and Russia will each take samples.

    They will then take the samples to their respective countries to be tested for Polonium 210 and other lethal substances.

    Arafat's body will be reburied later in the day with military honors.

    Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, fell violently ill in October 2004.

    Two weeks later he was flown to a military hospital in Paris, where he died on November 11.