Swiss experts to visit Ramallah in Arafat probe: report

Swiss scientists who found abnormal levels of polonium on Yasser Arafat's personal effects will visit the West Bank city of Ramallah this month for the exhumation of the late Palestinian leader's remains, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

"The objective is to find out whether or not his body has been exposed to polonium 210," Francois Bochud, director of the Institute for Radiation Physics at Switzerland's University of Lausanne, said in an interview with Le Matin Dimanche.

The veteran leader died at the age of 75 in a French military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004 and French experts were unable to say what had killed him, but many Palestinians convinced he was poisoned by Israel.

French prosecutors launched a probe after Al-Jazeera television broadcast an investigation in which the Swiss experts said they had found high levels of polonium, a highly toxic radioactive substance, on Arafat's personal effects.

He and Patrice Mangin, a forensic pathologist and toxicologist, will join the operation to examine Arafat's remains which is expected to begin on November 26.

"Frankly, I don't know what we are going to find," Bochud said.

Polonium, which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking tea laced with the poison at a London hotel.

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