Yasser Arafat may have died of polonium poisoning


The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat pictured in Gaza City in 1982. This photo was released by Palestinian Authorities in October 2004 after Arafat collapsed and lost consciousness. He died in Paris shortly afterward.



New laboratory research carried out on the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, suggests he may have been poisoned by polonium.

A documentary aired by Al-Jazeera is claiming that the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland analyzed biological samples taken from belongings given to his wife Suha Arafat by the military hospital in Paris where he died.

"The conclusion was that we did find some significant polonium that was present in these samples," Francois Bochud, the Institute’s head told the news service.

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AFP explains that polonium was mixed with tea to kill the Russian former spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko at a hotel in London in 2006.

Reuters quotes another spokesman for the Institute, Darcy Christen, as saying they had found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 in Arafat's belongings, but he stressed that clinical symptoms described in Arafat's medical reports were not consistent with polonium-210. The ABC’s Middle East correspondent says that to confirm that polonium killed Arafat, his remains would have to exhumed for analysis. His widow is to request for that to happen.

The New York Times explains that Arafat was 75 fell ill in Oct. 2004 and died on Nov. 11 of unannounced causes. An inconclusive Palestinian inquiry in 2005 ruled out cancer, AIDS or poisoning, and medical records obtained by the newspaper last year said he had died of a stroke.

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