French criminal investigators will be exhuming Yasser Arafat’s remains in November in an attempt to find out how the Palestinian leader died, according to a French official’s statement on Tuesday.
The French official stated that the team will arrive between November 24 and November 26 in Rammallah in the West Bank, reports Fox News.
Authorities in Palestine have also confirmed the timetable, adding that a separate team from Switzerland will be arriving in Ramallah at the same time.
Darcy Christian, who is a spokeswoman for Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics, who will be conducting the autopsy on Arafat for the Swiss team, contradicted the statements, saying no date has yet been confirmed.
The desire to re-examine the circumstances surrounding Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004 came after a Swiss lab discovered traces of polonium-210 — a deadly radioactive isotope — on clothes said to have been worn by the late Palestinian leader.
The discovery of the isotope revived suspicions that Arafat was poisoned. While Arafat’s immediate cause of death was related to a stroke, he suffered an illness in his final weeks, whose underlying source was never discovered, notes ABC News.
The French and Swiss investigators will conduct parallel probes into the late Palestinian leader’s death, but will act separately on behalf of both Arafat’s widow Suha Arafat and the Palestinian authority. Both have had misgivings about the other’s investigation. Suha Arafat was the one to formally ask for a French investigation into her husband’s death earlier this summer.
While both probes will be separate, they will visit the grave together and will only be allowed one opportunity to draw samples from Arafat’s body. While the Palestinians have said that the process of digging out Yasser Arafat’s remains will be private, keeping it a secret will likely be difficult, because the later Palestinian leader’s body lies in a giant mausoleum outside government headquarters in Ramallah.