14 Nov 2012

Preparations begin to exhume Arafat

10:29 pm on 14 November 2012

The tomb of the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been sealed in preparation for an exhumation aimed at settling speculation he was poisoned.

Arafat was buried in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2004 after dying at the age of 75 of an undetermined cause in a French military hospital.

France began a murder inquiry in August after radioactive polonium-210 was found on his personal effects.

Arafat's medical records say he had a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

His widow, Suha, objected to a post-mortem at the time, but has appealed to the Palestinian Authority to permit the exhumation "to reveal the truth".

Arafat's tomb has been sealed off, with scaffolding and blue tarpaulins to hide it from view. The BBC reports roads around the compound are blocked.

French, Swiss and Russian experts will forensically test Arafat's remains after Palestinians exhume them.

Many Palestinians are convinced he was poisoned by Israel.