Arafats body exhumed to test for poisoning

The body of former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was exhumed to test whether he died of radioactive poisoning.

The body was exhumed Nov. 27 and samples were taken by a Palestinian doctor under the supervision of Swiss, Russian and French experts. The body was then reburied, according to reports. Analysis of the samples reportedly will take several months.

Arafat’s wife, Suha, had filed legal action in July asking French authorities to look into claims that he was poisoned. In August, French prosecutors opened a murder inquiry. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat’s belongings. Polonium is a highly toxic substance rarely found outside military and scientific circles.

Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. He fell violently ill in October 2004 and died two weeks later, at age 75, in a Paris military hospital.

The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some have contended that Arafat died of AIDS. — jta