Yasser Arafat death: Swiss report suspects poisoning with Polonium-210

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 13:39

Zee Media Bureau

Jerusalem: After nine years of mystery that shrouded the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat`s death, a detailed forensic report by Swiss experts claims that his death was caused by poisoning with polonium-210”, reports said Thursday.

According to the 108-page Swiss forensic report accessed by al-Jazeera, "unexpectedly high levels of polonium-210 and lead-210 activity" were detected in the remains extracted from the exhumed body of the late leader.

The remains that were examined upon by experts at Vaudois University Hospital Centre (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland, consisted of pieces of Arafat’s bones of ribs and pelvis and the soil around his corpse which had absorbed his bodily fluids.

The report concluded that the results obtained by the scientists "moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210".

The report comes just four days before his death anniversary that falls on Nov 11.

Reacting to the report, Arafat’s widow Mrs. Suha Arafat told Al-Jazeera she was shocked and saddened by the revelations.

"It`s a shocking, shocking crime to get rid of a great leader," she said.

Arafat died at a French military hospital in 2004, following a sudden illness which baffled doctors.

No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow`s request.

His medical report claimed that he died of a stroke triggered by abnormal blood conditions.

Palestinians have been suspecting Israel’s hand behind the poisoning for long, and the latest report may spark the tensions again.

Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian committee investigating Arafat`s death, had earlier said that Ramallah would petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague if it found proof that the veteran leader was poisoned.

However Israel rubbished the report with its foreign ministry writing off the Swiss probe as "more soap opera than science".

Arafat’s body was exhumed from his grave in West Bank’s Ramallah after a Swiss institute discovered traces of the poisonous element polonium in his belongings.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) agreed to exhume the late president`s body at the request of some of his family members.

The request for exhumation was made after Switzerland`s Institute of Radiation Physics discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on some of Arafat`s belongings.

Arafat led the Palestinian Liberation Organisation`s fight against Israel from the 1960s but signed a peace agreement with the Jewish state in 1993 establishing Palestinian self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

His mysterious death came four years into a Palestinian uprising, after years of talks with Israel failed to lead to a Palestinian state.

Ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was also found to have been poisone by Polonium in London in 2006.

First Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 09:23

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