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PA seals off Arafat tomb to prepare for exhumation

Nov. 13, 2012 2:14 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 7:36 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority sealed off the Ramallah tomb of late leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday as preparations begin to exhume his body, Ma'an's reporter said.

The tomb in Arafat's compound will be off-limits to visitors for the next two weeks as construction crews prepare to remove stones around the tomb.

The body of the late leader is set to be exhumed on Nov. 26, eight years after his death, as part of an investigation to see if he was murdered, a diplomat said last week.

"There's full cooperation these days between us and the French investigators and Swiss experts, and also from the Russian government," Abbas said this week.

Three French forensic experts are expected to visit Arafat's limestone sepulcher in Ramallah on Nov. 20, and investigating magistrates plan to visit four days later, a diplomatic source told Reuters.

Arafat's direct kin have rejected an exhumation.

"We say openly that our leader, our founder was assassinated by Israel with poison. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people is convinced of this," Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat's nephew and a senior official in Abbas's Fatah group, said on Saturday.

"Some have spread about the repugnant idea that Arafat's tomb should be opened up and desecrated. There is no justification for this: we know the real truth," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report
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