Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, was poisoned by polonium,
according to the findings of laboratory research carried out in
Switzerland and cited in an Al-Jazeera report on Tuesday.
The analysis focused on biological samples taken from the late
Palestinian leader’s belongings given to his wife Suha by the
military hospital in Paris where he died, according to Francois
Bochud, head of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the
University of Lausanne.
“The conclusion was that we did find some significant polonium
that was present in these samples,” Bochud told Al-Jazeera.
Polonium was used to kill Russian former spy turned Kremlin critic
Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking tea laced
with the radioactive substance at a London hotel.
Arafat, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who led the struggle for
Palestinian statehood for nearly four decades, died on November
11, 2004, following several weeks of treatment.
He had been airlifted to France from his besieged headquarters in
the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to reveal the
precise cause of death or the nature of his condition, fueling a
host of rumors and theories as to the cause of his illness.
At the time of his death at the age of 75, Palestinian officials
charged he had been poisoned by longtime foe Israel, but an
inconclusive Palestinian investigation in 2005 ruled out cancer,
AIDS or poisoning.
To confirm the theory that he was poisoned by polonium it would be
necessary to exhume and analyze Arafat’s remains, Bochud said.
“If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her
husband (we need) to find a sample — I mean, an exhumation...
should provide us with a sample that should have a very high
quantity of polonium if he was poisoned,” he said.