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Abnormally high level of polonium found in Palestinian leader Arafat's remains
Thursday November 7, 2013 10:26 AM, Agencies

A detailed investigation by Swiss forensic experts has found at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium in the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's remains, suggesg that he may have been poisoned to death, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.

A 108-page report by Swiss scientists says that the probe findings supports the theory that Arafat was poisoned with polonium. The late Palestinian leader's official medical records say that he died of a stroke in 2004.

The study conducted at the Vaudois University Hospital Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland included evaluation of "the handling of the case", examining a travel bag containing Arafat's personal effects and "a forensic evaluation of the specimens taken from the remains after exhumation" in 2012, according to the report.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.

Many Palestinians believe that Israel poisoned Arafat. But Israel has consistently denied any involvement in the Palestinian leader's death at the French Military Hospital of Percy, Clamart.

After the allegations that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was poisoned were resurrected in July 2012 after Al-Jazeera news channel broadcast an investigation in which experts said they found high levels of polonium on his personal effects, Arafat's widow Suha and his daughter Zawra lodged a murder complaint on July 31 in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Conesquently, French prosecutors opened a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's 2004 death near Paris, sources close to the matter told AFP Tuesday.

Arafat, who led the struggle for Palestinian statehood for nearly four decades, died in a French military hospital after being airlifted there for treatment from his Ramallah headquarters.

At the time of his death, Palestinian officials alleged he had been poisoned by long-time foe Israel, but an inconclusive Palestinian investigation in 2005 ruled out poisoning, as well as cancer and AIDS.

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