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Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat To Be Exhumed For Toxicology Tests

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Suspicions remain about the cause of Yasser Arafat's death | Alamy

The body of the former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is to be exhumed next week amidst suspicions he may have been poisoned.

Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organisation for 35 years, died eight years ago after becoming the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996.

He fell ill in October 2004 and in spite of treatment in a French military hospital in Paris died on 11 November 2004, aged 75.

Medical records for Arafat said he died after suffering a stroke because of blood disorders. However, a French court opened a murder inquiry after high levels of radioactive polonium were found by a Swiss Institute on his clothing, which had been provided by his widow, Suha.

Arafat is buried in Ramallah on the West Bank in a tomb that was sealed off earlier this month. Once the former PLO leader's body is removed, scientists from France, Switzerland and Russia will each take samples, former Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi told the BBC.

No autopsy was carried out on Arafat when he died at the request of his widow, but she has since agreed to this exhumation to enable the Palestine Authority to find the truth about her husband's death, according to reports. Many Palestinians have long suspected that he was murdered by Israel, which has rejected such claims.

The exhumation is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

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