Arafat's Remains Exhumed in Secretive Operation

Poison probe to test late leader's bone samples

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 27, 2012 1:47 AM CST | Updated Nov 27, 2012 7:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Yasser Arafat was exhumed from his West Bank grave today as experts seek clues in the Palestinian leader's 2004 death in Paris, the AP reports. France opened a murder investigation earlier this year amid reports that highly radioactive polonium was found on his personal effects. French, Swiss, and Russian experts will test samples from Arafat's bones, though since polonium decomposes rapidly, his death may well remain a mystery.

The Guardian takes a close look at the secretive operation: Arafat's body was dug up in the pre-dawn hours, with large tarps hung around the site to shield it from prying eyes. It took a while to reach Arafat's remains, as workers had to drill through concrete to get to the coffin. Once forensic experts and a doctor could finally see the corpse, they decided not to remove it entirely, based on the state it was in. Instead, they took samples that will be investigated, and six hours after his body was dug up, it was quietly reburied.

In this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004 photo, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is seen at his compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. He died the following month.
In this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004 photo, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is seen at his compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. He died the following month.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)
Palestinians walk past a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City,.
Palestinians walk past a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City,.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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