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Palestinians eye Arafat exhumation on poison claim

A new report from a Swiss lab says former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could have been poisoned with radioactive polonium. Scientists examining Arafat's clothing say they found high levels of the radioactive agent present. Francois Bochud is the director of the Chuv Radiophysics Institute. SOUNDBITE:Francois Bochud, Director Of Chuv Radiophysics Institute saying (Arabic) "What contained the most activity was the underwear of Mr Arafat, his Russian hat when he arrived in Paris -- or when he left Ramallah -- and his toothbrush. His toothbrush contained more radioactivity than the rest of the environment." He added that scientists cannot say with absolute certainty that Arafat was poisoned. The new findings are however raising questions about his Arafat's death and prompted some to call for the former leader's body to be exhumed. His widow Suha Arafat. SOUNDBITE: Suha Arafat, Wife Of Late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat, Saying: "I want to ask to exhume the body of my husband. I think this is my responsibility as a mother, as a wife, as his partner of this great man for 20 years. This is my message to the Palestinian Authority that they have to co-operate because (OVERLAID WITH VISUALS) the grave and the tomb of Yasser is in Ramallah." Palestinians on the streets of Ramallah, where Arafat is laid to rest, also called for an investigation. SOUNDBITE: Ramallah resident Abu Ali saying:(Arabic) "This information seems to be true and it is of great importance and relevance for us as Palestinians and Arabs, to know the truth regarding the killing of this leader. Is it really a crime committed by Israel, or did he die of other causes, we should find out the truth in any way possible." Israel has denied any involvement in Arafat's death. After an extended illness, Arafat was airlifted to a military hospital in France, where he died in November of 2004. French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to give details of the nature of his illness. Deborah Gembara, Reuters

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