The remains of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have been re-buried in Ramallah after his body was exhumed to try to determine whether he was murdered.
A military ceremony was held in front of the mausoleum at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the presence of the prime minister and President Mahmoud Abbas.
No post-mortem was carried out at the time of Arafat’s death in 2004 in France. Although medical records say he died of a stroke, abnormally high traces of radioactive polonium have since been discovered on his personal effects.
Samples have now been taken for examination by French, Swiss and Russian experts.
Many Palestinians believe he was murdered by Israeli agents. Some Palestinian investigators are adamant that there was foul play.
“The medical commission, toxicologists and scientists think that President Arafat was poisoned. If after the samples are analysed, it turns out that polonium-210 was the cause, we will therefore have reached the truth. If, on the other hand that was not the case, we think that it is a matter of another poison,” said Abdallah al-Bashir, head of the Palestinian medical committee of the Palestinian commission of inquiry.
French doctors who treated Yasser Arafat said they were unable to determine the cause of his death.
For the last two and a half years of his life he was largely confined to his West Bank headquarters by Israel following a Palestinian uprising.
Some experts doubt whether the tests will reveal anything useful about polonium as it decays rapidly and traces would be difficult to detect. Others have also questioned whether Arafat could have been killed by the substance, or whether Israel would have wanted to eliminate him.
Israel, which denies murdering Arafat, invited the Palestinian Authority to release all his medical records, which have remained unopened since his death.