Experts exhume Arafat’s remains for poison test

Palestinian authorities Tuesday opened Yasser Arafat's grave and foreign experts took samples from his remains as part of a long-shot attempt — eight years after the iconic leader's mysterious death — to determine whether he was poisoned, as relatives and some political successors have claimed.

The exhumation began before dawn, under the cover of huge sheets of blue tarpaulin draped over Arafat's mausoleum in his former government compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

By mid-morning, the grave was reclosed, said Tawfik Tirawi, an ex-Palestinian intelligence chief who heads the investigation into Arafat's death.

Arafat died in November 2004 at a French military hospital, a month after suddenly falling ill at his Ramallah compound, at the time besieged by Israeli troops. The immediate cause of death was a stroke, but underlying reasons were unclear, leading to widespread belief in Arab world that Israel poisoned the 75-year-old symbol of Palestinian nationalism.

Israel has denied involvement in Arafat's death.

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