Arafat’s body exhumed into murder inquiry

Arafat’s body exhumed into murder inquiry

Arafat’s body exhumed into murder inquiry

Palestinians walk in front of a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City. The body of Arafat was exhumed, eight years after his death, as part of an investigation into allegations he was poisoned with polonium. Palestinians made no progress in investigation after his death. AFP photo

Samples taken from Yasser Arafat’s buried corpse in the West Bank yesterday will be examined in France, Switzerland and Russia separately to determine if he was murdered by Israeli agents using the hard-to-trace radioactive poison polonium.

French magistrates in August opened a murder inquiry into Arafat’s death in Paris in 2004 after a Swiss institute said it had discovered high levels of polonium on clothing of his which was supplied by his widow, Suha Arafat, for a television documentary.

Samples from the remains were given to expert teams from Switzerland, France and Russia who will examine the samples separately in their countries, two Palestinian officials said on condition of anonymity.

“Samples will be taken according to a very strict protocol and these samples will be analyzed,” said Darcy Christen, spokesman for Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, which carried out the original tests on Arafat’s clothes.

“In order to do these analyses, to check, cross-check and double cross-check, it will take several months and I don’t think we’ll have anything tangible available before March or April next year,” he added.

Petition to ICC
The Palestinian leadership will petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague if it finds proof of poison in the remains, an official said yesterday.

Arafat led the bid for a Palestinian state through years of war and peacemaking and died in a French hospital aged 75 after a short, mysterious illness.

Palestinians had launched an investigation after his death, but made no progress. The probe was revived this summer when a Swiss lab detected elevated traces of a lethal radioactive substance, polonium-210, in biological stains on his clothing.

Compiled from AP, AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

Palestine’s bid nets support

PARIS – Agence France-Presse

France will back a Palestinian bid for enhanced United Nations status at a General Assembly vote tomorrow. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius noted France’s “consistent position” on the issue and told the National Assembly that Paris would vote “yes” in tomorrow’s decision on “nonmember observer state” status for Palestine. The draft seeking the status upgrade also calls on the U.N. Security Council to “consider favorably” the Palestinian request for full membership. Britain is also considering backing the bid but its U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the country has not yet decided on the issue yet. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday reiterated Turkey’s support of Palestine.