September 5, 2012 - 12:16 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - French judges investigating the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat are seeking to travel to Ramallah to look into allegations that he was poisoned, BBC News reported.
Arafat's widow, Suha, said the judges wanted to exhume his body and take samples for laboratory testing. A murder inquiry was launched last month after Swiss experts said they had found traces of the toxic radioactive chemical polonium-210 on his clothing.
Arafat died in France in 2004 after a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. However, many Palestinians continue to believe Arafat was poisoned by Israel, which saw Arafat as an obstacle to peace and had put him under house arrest. Israel has denied any involvement.
On Tuesday, Sept 4, Suha Arafat asked the Palestinian Authority and Arab League to cooperate with the French magistrates' investigations.
The Palestinian Authority has said that it would be willing to order the exhumation of Arafat's body from the stone-clad mausoleum in which it is buried in the presidential compound in Ramallah in the West Bank.
Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1996, fell violently ill in October 2004 at his besieged West Bank compound. Two weeks later he was flown to a French military hospital in Paris, where he died on 11 November 2004 at the age of 75.
In 2005, the New York Times obtained a copy of Arafat's medical records, which it said showed he died of a massive haemorrhagic stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection.
Independent experts who reviewed the records told the paper that it was highly unlikely that he had died of Aids or had been poisoned.
In July, al-Jazeera TV reported that the Institute of Radiation Physics (IRA) at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland had found "significant" traces of polonium-210 present in samples taken from Arafat's personal effects, including his trademark keffiyeh.