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Radiation experts confirm polonium on Arafat clothing
Published Monday 14/10/2013 (updated) 16/10/2013 20:40
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Yasser Arafat addresses delegates of the Organization of African
Unity in July 1972 in Kampala.(AFP)
PARIS (AFP) -- Swiss radiation experts have confirmed they found traces of polonium on clothing used by Yasser Arafat which "support the possibility" the veteran Palestinian leader was poisoned.

In a report published by The Lancet at the weekend, the team provide scientific details to media statements made in 2012 that they had found polonium on Arafat's belongings.

Arafat died in France on November 11 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow's request.

His remains were exhumed in November 2012 and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned -- a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

That investigation is ongoing, conducted separately by teams in France, Switzerland and Russia.

In the Lancet report, eight scientists working at the Institute of Radiation Physics and University Center of Legal Medicine in Lausanne said they had carried out radiological tests on 75 samples.

Thirty-eight samples came from Arafat's belongings, including underwear, a shapka hat, toothbrush, a hospital cap and sportswear, that were provided by the Palestinian leader's widow Suha Arafat.

These were checked against 37 "reference" samples of cotton clothing that had been kept in an attic for 10 years and protected from dust.

"Several samples containing body fluid stains (blood and urine) contained higher unexplained polonium 210 activities than the reference samples," says the case report.

"These findings support the possibility of Arafat's poisoning with polonium 210."

The polonium samples were measured at "several mBq," or millibecquerels, a unit of radioactivity.

Computer modelling, which calculates polonium's very fast decay, found that these levels "are compatible with a lethal ingestion of several GBq," or several billion becquerels, in 2004, they said.

In addition, says the report, Arafat's clinical symptoms "could not rule out" polonium poisoning.

These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and abdominal pain.

"Since ingested polonium 210 is eliminated partly through feces, the gastro-intestinal syndrome, associated with multiple organ failure, could be a predominant cause of death," the authors suggest.

They acknowledge, though, that Arafat showed no hair loss or decline in bone marrow activity -- symptoms that typically occur in radiation poisoning.

The team regret that no postmortem investigation was carried out after Arafat's death.

"An autopsy would have been useful in this case because although potential polonium poisoning might not have been identified during that procedure, body samples could have been kept and tested afterwards."

On July 3 2012, one of the authors, Francois Bochud, who is head of the Institute of Radiation Physics, told Al-Jazeera that the team "did find some significant polonium" in Arafat's belongings.

"If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her husband (we need) to find a sample -- I mean an exhumation -- should provide with a sample that should have a very high quantity of polonium if he was poisoned," he told the Mideast TV news channel.

Beatrice Schaad, head of communications at the Vaudois University Hospital Center which is in charge of the institute, said the case report was the "scientific version" of what was given to the media.

"There is nothing new compared with what was said" in 2012, she told AFP. "There is still no conclusion that he was poisoned."
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1 ) Ummm no / USA
14/10/2013 17:23
BullSh** I don't believe ... If Israel wanted him dead he would have been dead long ago, Israel not afraid to eliminate its enemies

2 ) Maureen / Australia
14/10/2013 18:21
#1 Who said anything about Israel in this article? BUT since you mention the home of MOSSAD...

3 ) Joe Fattal / USA
14/10/2013 19:51
Israel needed Arafat as radical as he is an excuse to continue their war against the Palestinians. And who in the region then had any radiation material to waste to poison someone. Either Israel or Iran. The second choice might be the one.

4 ) carlos / usa
15/10/2013 18:48
israel murdered Arafat. If Arafat was a radical then the world is doomed. The radical was the fat tub of lard Arial Sharon. His incessant ethnic cleansing and murder. Arafat said no to Sharon and Sharon tried to scare him into submission. When he could not Sharon had him murdered. While he was dying Sharon started rumors he died of AIDS. israel is terror and murder. I am very proud not to be an israeli. Bless the Nobel Prize Laureates for leaving israel.

5 ) emile / lb
15/10/2013 21:21
funny they never let a bad word get published about the collabaorator yasser arafat..or dahlan,abbas et al

6 ) Russia with love / USA
17/10/2013 13:56
Arafat had many enemies but Israel did not do it, if Israel wanted him dead they would have killed him like Yassine looooong ago.

7 ) Robby / USA
18/10/2013 01:44
6 ) Russia with love / USA: Be careful, logic has no place in this discussion.
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