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Entries in Yasser Arafat (4)

Wednesday
Nov142012

Exhumation of Yasser Arafat’s Remains Begin

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The exhumation of a body is usually not a multi-week process, but workers who began to exhume the body of the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday are expected to take two weeks to complete the task.

A source close to Arafat’s family tells AFP the work is expected to last 15 days.  The exhumation began Tuesday with the removal of concrete and stones from Arafat’s mausoleum in Ramallah on the West Bank.

French, Swiss and Russian experts are involved in the exhumation, which was approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after French authorities opened an investigation into Arafat’s 2004 death, following a claim that he may have been killed by a rare radioactive poison.

This past summer, a Swiss institute said it had discovered high levels of the radioactive element polonium-210 on Arafat’s clothing that had been supplied by the late leader’s widow.

The most famous example of someone dying from that toxic substance was former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium-210 after obtaining political asylum in London in 2006.

Arafat fell into a coma at his Ramallah compound and was transported to France for treatment that failed to revive him.  His official cause of death was listed as a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Yasser Arafat's Death Becomes a Murder Investigation in France

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The 2004 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is now a murder investigation in France.

Prosecutors agreed to look into the matter after Arafat's family pushed for an official investigation into the death of the former chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, who died in Paris at age 75.

Arafat fell into a coma at his Ramallah compound and was transported to France for treatment that failed to revive him.  His official cause of death was listed as a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

However, a subsequent probe of Arafat's belongings uncovered what were described as "significant" traces of radioactive polonium-210 on his clothing.

The most famous example of someone dying from that toxic substance was former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium-210 after obtaining political asylum in London in 2006.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul122012

Palestinians Accuse Israel of Fatally Poisoning Yasser Arafat

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Israel was accused Tuesday of being behind the killing of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the most official accusation leveled against the Jewish state since Arafat's sudden and mysterious death in November 2004.

"We are accusing Israel of killing Yasser Arafat and poisoning him," said Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the committee charged with investigating Arafat's death, at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We are asking for a trial for those who assassinated and poisoned Arafat."

Palestinians have long accused Israel of being behind the poisoning of the 75-year-old leader.

Many feel their suspicions were confirmed last week with the release of a documentary by the television network Al Jazeera that found "significant" levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects, which his wife had given to the channel for examination by a Swiss forensics laboratory.

"Israel was not involved in the death of Arafat," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told the Agence France-Presse. "All the medical files are in the hands of the Palestinians and it was not Israel who is preventing their publication."

The Arafat Foundation has now released the medical records online.

Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Qidwa, the head of the foundation, said there's "no longer any doubt" Arafat was "assassinated by poisoning."

The documentary revealed that Arafat was not tested for polonium at the French hospital where he died after being airlifted from the West Bank and that his cause of death was listed as "unknown."

Two years later Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and critic of Vladimir Putin, was famously killed with polonium in London.

"The French report said that specialized doctors were not able to find a reason or known illness that can explain the causes for the death," said Arafat's former doctor Abdullah al-Bashir on Tuesday. "They said that developments in the illness could not be explained in the framework of pathology … We are ready to work with the Swiss lab to take samples from Arafat's body," he added.

At the end of the film, Arafat's wife, Suha, called for the exhumation of his body for further investigation. The Palestinian Authority and Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, quickly supported the move, with a top Abbas aide saying it could happen "within days."

But on Tuesday, the Palestinian justice minister said no request had yet been made to exhume Arafat.

"The Palestinian people want to know the truth about Arafat's death," Tirawi said. "We should do everything to reach the truth."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul042012

Yasser Arafat's Body to Be Exhumed

JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Palestinian leaders agreed today to exhume the body of Yasser Arafat after a television documentary suggested that he had been assassinated while being treated in a Paris hospital.

Arafat was 75 and had long been ill when he slipped into a coma and died on Nov. 11, 2004. He had been suffering from a mysterious illness. The cause of the death was never determined and French medical officials would not release details of his illness because of privacy laws. The medical report was given to his family.

The television network al Jazeera broadcast a documentary this week in which a Swiss institute examined clothing provided by Arafat's widow Suha and determined there were high levels of polonium-210, the same substance found to have killed a former Russian spy in London in 2006.

Suha Arafat has since called for her husband's body to be exhumed from its mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Presidential adviser Nabil Abu Rdeineh said today that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given instructions to launch an investigation with international experts to look into the findings of the al Jazeera report.

The Abbas regime will agree to exhume the body, and senior PA official Saab Erakaat demanded that it be conducted by an international committee.

The al Jazeera report was the subject in every shop and street corner throughout the Palestinian territory. In East Jerusalem's main commercial street Saleh al Din, it replaced conversations about the Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis.

People were critical of the PA for not doing anything to advance an investigation of Arafat's death instead of al Jazeera.

And most people said the reports confirmed their own suspicions.

Ahmed Batta, a barber shop owner in East Jerusalem, told ABC News, "We knew for a long time that Arafat was poisoned. What we need to know now is who is behind the killing?"

Batta, 45, had prime suspects in mind.

"The Israeli Mossa and the American CIA," he said.

Arafat's body must be exhumed "so we will know the truth and also we might find who was behind it," Batta said.

Bookstore owner Iyad Muna, 42, told ABC News, "Arafat was killed and we knew that. And we know more than that. We knew that Israel killed him, but there was a lack in evidence. Yesterday we got the evidence."

"Arafat was the symbol of the Palestinian struggle and fight for freedom, but the PA will stay silent because they are interested in keeping the so called peace talks" with Israel, Muna said.

Iyad Dajani, a travel agent, praised al Jazeera's findings and wants them followed up. "It was always on our mind (that Arafat was killed)," he said.

Dajani, 47, however, does not want Arafat's body to be disturbed.

"The truth is there with the military hospital in Paris, and it will be disrespectful for such a great leader like Arafat to have his body exhumed," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio