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Did polonium poisoning kill Arafat?
November 7, 2013, 6:48 am

Arafat, seen here in a portrait carried by his supporter on the second anniversary of his death, has been an iconic leader for some Arabs [Getty Images]

Arafat, seen here in a portrait carried by his supporter on the second anniversary of his death, has been an iconic leader for some Arabs [Getty Images]

Scientists at the University Centre of Legal Medicine of Lausanne in Switzerland say that extensive testing of the clothes and exhumed body of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has revealed evidence that “moderately” supports the theory that he may have died of polonium poisoning.

They said that they found 18 times the normal levels of polonium in his personal effects.

The Al-Jazeera news network, which obtained a copy of the Centre’s findings, reported on Wednesday that the scientists were 83 per cent confident that Arafat had been poisoned, and likely died of, polonium in his system.

“The report shows that high levels of polonium were found in Arafat’s ribs and pelvis, and in soil stained with his decaying organs,” said the Arabic news network.

The Centre’s findings cap a year of often controversial allegations from Palestinian sources that Arafat’s sudden illness in October 2004 – and death less than a month later – was a result of a covert assassination plot.

His widow, Suha, asked that his body be exhumed last year on suspicion that he had been poisoned.

From a scientific perspective, identifying traces of polonium – which has a half-life of 138 days – becomes much more difficult with the passage of time, particularly an eight-year gap between his death and exhumation, the Centre said in a caveat.

Furthermore, the report cannot specifically rule that polonium poisoning could have been the only reason for the late Palestinian leader’s death.

Late on Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry dismissed the Swiss report as being inconclusive and full of “holes”.

“It’s all very, very confused and unclear. What is clear is that there are huge holes in the theory, more holes than Swiss cheese,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Yigal Palmor. He criticised the Swiss team for not investigating Arafat’s hospital quarters or his Ramallah office.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority has not issued a statement, but some officials have said they have yet to see the Centre’s report before commenting.

Source: Agencies

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