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Arafat Body Could Be Exhumed In Poisoning Row
The body of veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could be exhumed after it emerged that he may have been poisoned.
The results of a nine-month investigation, commissioned by the broadcaster al Jazeera, found the radioactive substance polonium in items belonging to him.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called for a probe into Arafat's death.
"We call for the formation of an international investigation committee, modelled on the international investigation committee set up to look into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri," he told the AFP news agency.
Arafat's widow Suha Arafat said she would push for her husband's body to be exhumed so further tests could be carried out.
She rejected a postmortem examination at the time of his death, but said she wanted one done now in the wake of the lab's findings.
She did not explain why she had waited nearly eight years to have the belongings, including a toothbrush and a fur hat, tested.
French doctors said at the time that Arafat died of a massive brain haemorrhage - weeks after he fell violently ill at his West Bank compound.
He had suffered intestinal inflammation, jaundice and a blood condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, according to French medical records.
The al Jazeera investigation centred on forensic testing of items belonging to Arafat that were handed to Mrs Arafat by the Paris hospital where he died in November 2004 at the age of 75.
Mrs Arafat gave al Jazeera permission to take the items, which contained strands of Arafat's hair and traces of sweat, urine and blood, for testing at several European laboratories, including in Switzerland.
Francois Bochud, head of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne, who co-operated with Al Jazeera on the investigation, said the testing revealed high levels of polonium.
"The conclusion was that we did find some significant polonium that was present in these samples," he told Al Jazeera.
But to confirm the theory that the Palestinian leader was poisoned by polonium it would be necessary to exhume and analyse Arafat's remains, Mr Bochud said.
Mrs Arafat said: "I will immediately address an official letter to the Swiss laboratory that conducted the tests ... to authorise the collection of samples from the remains of the martyr Arafat to verify the results and accelerate the uncovering of the truth about the assassination of Arafat."
Tawfiq Tirawi, who led a Palestinian probe into Arafat's death, said Palestinian authorities would allow an analysis of samples from the leader's remains - which are buried in Ramallah on the West Bank - if his family agreed.
Polonium was used to kill the Russian former spy Alexander Litvinenko, who had become a strident critic of Moscow.
He died in 2006 after drinking tea laced with the substance at a London restaurant.
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