Ramallah: The Palestinian Committee in charge of investigating the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat cancelled the former leader’s re-burial ceremony on Tuesday because the foreign forensic experts managed to take samples from the corpse without having to exhume his remains.
According to the committee’s statement, issued by the committee head General Tawfiq Al Tirawi, the French, Swiss and Russian forensic experts unanimously agreed that the Arafat samples could be gathered without complete exhumation.
“As Arafat’s body was not pulled out or moved from its place, there will be no [need] for the re-burial ceremony,” said General Tirawi.
He said, however, that the ceremony will be replaced by a visit of the executive committee members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Fatah Central Committee members during which flowers will be laid on Arafat’s grave.
General Tirawi is scheduled to hold a press conference at the Palestinian Presidential Headquarter (Mukataa) later on Tuesday to outline the procedures used when taking Arafat’s samples.
Heavy security was deployed in the area of Arafat’s graveyard near Al Mukataa and the press was banned from reaching the scene. Instead, members of the press were given the chance to take pictures of the scene, which was covered with blue sheets, from a long distance.
The security measures taken in the graveyard were so strict that even those authorised to enter the scene, including the forensic experts, were instructed to leave their mobile phones outside the area so that no pictures could be taken of the scene.