In the eight years since Yasser Arafat died in Paris, controversy around the cause of his death has never quite gone away, and now that his body is being exhumed in order to quell that controversy, it may be too late. The questions over Arafat’s death intensified this year thanks to an Al Jazeera investigation that found traces of radioactive polonium, which can be used as a poison, among belongings of the late Palestinian leader. The new finding was enough to cause the French government to reclassify his death as a homicide, and for the Palestinian authority to grant permission for the exhumation.
But now that scientists have removed Arafat’s body from its tomb in Ramallah and are taking samples to analyze for traces of the poison, Reuters notes that “eight years is considered the limit to detect any traces of the fast-decaying polonium,” and the hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland that helped Al Jazeera with its initial investigation has already questioned whether it was even worth it to wait until “October to November” to take the samples. One thing the delay will likely ensure: Any finding from the exhumation will still come with a side dish of controversy.