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Palestinians vow justice if Arafat poisoned

Palestinian leaders promised to bring any potential suspects to justice for the death of Yasser Arafat after their former leader's body was exhumed yesterday for medical tests to determine if he was poisoned.

High and unexplained levels of polonium, a radioactive element, were found on Mr Arafat's clothing and personal effects in Swiss tests.

A Palestinian commission established to oversee the exhumation said it would petition the International Criminal Court for a trial if Mr Arafat was found to have been poisoned.

A former Palestinian Authority intelligence official close to Mr Arafat before the leader's death aged 75 in November 2004, said he believed collaborators had worked with Israel to poison Mr Arafat. Fahmi Shabameh said senior figures may be implicated. Scientists took samples from the remains of the former Palestinian Authority president after opening his tomb in Ramallah.

Doctors predicted it would take up to three months before the results were available.

Israel has opposed the authority's bid for UN full observer-state status, due to go before a UN vote tomorrow, partly because it fears the Palestinian leadership would exploit its position to bring grievances before the ICC.

Palestinians have long insisted that Israel engineered his death after keeping him under siege in his headquarters for the last three years of his life. Israel denies the accusations. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent