Author : PNN | Readings : 29 | Date : 2012-08-09
A Swiss Laboratory has been asked by a committee looking into the unexplained death of Yasser Arafat in 2004 to examine the body of the former Palestinian president.
A spokesperson for the laboratory said on Wednesday that it will do so only if it receives guarantees that its findings will not be used for political purposes, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Swiss Radiophysics Institute recently found traces of the deadly radioactive polonium isotope on items of Arafat's clothing that were provided by his widow for an Al Jazeera documentary.
The spokesperson, Darcy Christen, told Reuters, "We have been invited by the Palestinian National Authority and we are currently studying the most appropriate way of responding to this request.
"Meanwhile, our main concern is to guarantee the independence, the credibility and the transparency of any involvement that we may have"
Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the committee investigating Arafat's death, confirmed that the laboratory was seeking assurances before sending experts to Ramallah. He said, "they have some legal issues and legal procedures," although he declined to clarify what these were.
"We've asked for [the Swiss team's] arrival at full speed...the leadership has resolved to grant them any investigations they might request," Tirawi added.
Arafat's death in 2004 remains a mystery, after he was struck with an illness that is still unknown today, during a siege mounted by Israel on his Ramallah compound. Arafat was airlifted to France, where he died shortly afterwards.
The circumstances of the Palestinian leader's death lead to rumours that Israel might be behind an assassination, and the investigation into the death has the potential to create further tensions with Israel.
Arafat's body will be exhumed from the mausoleum in the presidential compound in Ramallah, which the committee has said that the government and his family are supportive of.
After the Al-Jazeera documentary was aired, Arafat's widow Suha lobbied the French courts to open an investigation into the death, claiming that the French authorities had destroyed forensic samples taken from his body too quickly.
Palestinian officials and the Arab League have also called for an investigation into the case, with the Jerusalem Post saying that they would like it to be similar to the UN Special Tribunal that looked into the death of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.