The Palestinians on Tuesday began work to open the grave of iconic leader Yasser Arafat ahead of an exhumation of his body for a murder probe, a source close to his family told AFP.

“Today they started removing concrete and stones from Arafat’s mausoleum and the work will last for almost 15 days,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There are several phases,” he said, referring to the opening of the tomb ahead of a visit by French, Swiss and Russian experts to forensically test Arafat’s remains over suspicions he was poisoned with radioactive substance polonium.

“It starts with the removal of stone and concrete and cutting the iron [framework] until they reach the soil that covers the body, which will not be removed until the arrival of the French prosecutors, Swiss experts and Russian investigators,” the source said. — AFP