Report: Yasser Arafat ‘may have been poisoned with polonium’

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned with radioactive polonium, says a Swiss forensic report obtained by al-Jazeera.

Arafat’s official medical records say he died in 2004 from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

But his body was exhumed last year amid continuing claims he was murdered.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The Swiss report said tests on the body showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium, which “moderately” supported the poisoning theory.

Many Palestinians and others have long believed that Israel poisoned Arafat. Others allege that he had Aids or cancer. Israel has consistently denied any involvement.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said the Swiss investigation was “more soap opera than science”.

The scientists – from the Vaudois University Hospital Centre (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland – carried out a detailed examination of Arafat’s medical records, samples taken from his remains and items he had taken into the hospital in Paris where he died in 2004.

The biological materials included pieces of Mr Arafat’s bones and soil samples from around his corpse.

The scientists concluded that their results “moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210”.

The scientists stressed that they had been unable to reach a more definitive conclusion because of the time that had lapsed since Arafat’s death, the limited samples available and the confused “chain of custody” of some of the specimens.

Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive substance. It is found naturally in low doses in food and in the body, but can be fatal if ingested in high doses.

Agencies

Enable Notifications    Ok No thanks