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Exhumation of Arafats Corpse Went as Planned, say Officials

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RAMALLAH, November 27, 2012 (WAFA) Palestinian officials Tuesday said the exhumation of the corpse of the late leader Yasser Arafat to investigate the reasons behind his death went as planned without any problems and the results are expected to be known in three months.

Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the official committee investigating Arafats death, said in the press conference after the opening of Arafats grave that the procedures of exhuming his remains went in accordance with law and were approved by the Swiss, French and Russian forensic experts.

He said that Palestinian forensic experts were the only party to touch the remains, take samples from the corpse and pass them on to the three teams.

Abdullah al-Bashir, head of the medical committee investigating the death of Arafat, said the grave was opened at 5 a.m. after two days of intensive meetings to organize the process and avoid any problems that might arise.

The Swiss, French and Russian forensic teams will test the samples in their labs and the results will come out in three months, he said.

He said the forensic experts suspect that the radioactive substance, Polonium 210, is what killed Arafat, based on previous tests done on Arafats belongings, but that in case no traces of polonium were found, the committee requested from the teams to look for other toxic material.

Health Minister Hani Abdeen said that it was decided after opening the grave there will be no need to move the corpse to any other location and therefore the samples were taken from remains inside the grave, which was wide and spacious.

Tirawi said that statements by Israeli officials calling to kill Arafat were proof that Israel was behind the assassination, but they were not evidence.

He said the tests on Arafats remains were necessary to obtain solid evidence.

We hope that our first decision after we gain a non-member state status at the United Nations and find out what killed Arafat is to persecute those involved in his assassination, he said.

The Palestinian forensic experts took 20 samples from the corpse and each team was given the same samples to perform the tests to get the same results, said Bashir.

Tirawi affirmed that regardless of the results, whether positive or negative, the investigation will go on to find the truth behind Arafats death.

M.H./M.S.

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