RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The remains of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were exhumed Tuesday as part of an investigation to determine the cause of his death, officials said.
Eight years after his death, scientists from France, Switzerland and Russia took samples of his remains to determine whether Arafat's death was the result of poisoning. France initiated a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts reported traces of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects, the BBC said.
"Samples will be taken according to a very strict protocol and these samples will be analyzed ... 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 will have anything tangible available before March or April next year," Darcy Christen, a spokesman for the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, told the Ma'an news agency.
Arafat died in a Paris hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, and was buried in a stone mausoleum in the Muqata or presidential compound in Ramallah.
Arafat's wife Suha opposed conducting a post-mortem at the time of her husband's death but agreed to the exhumation in order "to reveal the truth," the BBC said.
"We are convinced Israel assassinated Arafat ... and no matter what the results given by Russia, Swish and French experts will be, the case will remain open," former Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi, head of a committee investigating Arafat's death told Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency Tuesday.
Media were barred from covering the exhumation and reburial, with full military honors, Wafa said.