Criminal investigators from France are having Yasser Arafat’s remains exhumed at the end of November to try to find how the former leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization died, an official from France said.
The official said that investigators from France were expected to arrive in Ramallah, a West Bank city, between November 24th and the 26th. Palestinian authorities said another investigative group was arriving from Switzerland around the same time that French investigators were expected in Ramallah.
A spokesperson from the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics, Darcy Christen, told officials in Ramallah that no date for the arrival of the Swiss team had been confirmed. The IRP will perform the autopsy for the investigators from Switzerland.
The pressure to exhume Arafat’s body has been heightened due to the circumstances that surrounded his death back in November of 2004. A Swiss lab recently found polonium-201 traces on clothing that family members said was Arafat’s. Polonium-201 is an isotope that is radioactive and can be deadly.
Because of that recent discovery, suspicions surrounding Arafat’s death and his possible poisoning have been revived. Originally, Arafat’s death was listed as being due to a stroke, but the cause of that stroke was never determined.
The French and Swiss will hold two separate investigations, one is on the behalf of Arafat’s widow Suha and the other is for the Palestinian Authority. Last summer, Suha requested formally that the French conduct their investigation into how her husband died.
Officials in Ramallah have said that the process of exhuming Arafat’s body will be private.