Arafat poisoned by polonium: Report
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 doctors who treated Arafat in his final days could not establish the cause of death. French officials refused to give details of his condition, citing privacy laws, fuelling a host of rumours and theories over the nature 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 analyse 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. Speaking at the end of the documentary, aired on Al Jazeera’s English and Arabic channels, she said: “We have to go further and exhume Yasser Arafat’s body to reveal the truth to all the Muslim and Arab world.”—WB