The Associated Press reports: Swiss experts have been invited to the West Bank to test Yasser Arafat’s remains for possible poisoning, the chief investigator looking into the 2004 death of the Palestinian leader said Wednesday.
The announcement followed weeks of zigzagging on the autopsy issue by officials in the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government that Arafat established. Their conflicting positions and hesitation triggered speculation they were trying to quietly kill the investigation.
Last month, Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics said it had detected elevated levels of radioactive polonium-210 on stains on Arafat’s clothing, reviving longstanding rumors in the Arab world that the Palestinian leader was poisoned.
However, the lab said the findings were inconclusive and that only exhuming Arafat’s remains could bring possible clarity. Lab officials also said polonium decays quickly and that an autopsy would need to be done within a few months at most. They also said they needed a formal invitation to proceed with testing.
Tawfik Tirawi, the chief Palestinian official investigating Arafat’s death said the Palestinians asked the Swiss lab for help. The lab confirmed that.
“We are currently studying how to adequately respond to this demand,” Darcy Christen, a spokesman for the Swiss institute, said Wednesday. “Meanwhile, our main concern is to guarantee the independence, the credibility and the transparency of any possible involvement on our side,” she said.