Deadly polonium found in Yasser Arafat's remains, study proves
At least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium found in exhumed corpse, Swiss team says
At least 18 times the normal levels of the deadly radioactive polonium in former PLO leader Yasser Arafat's remains have been discovered by a Swiss research team. Scientists now say they're confident up to an 83 percent level that Arafat was poisoned with it. Their conclusion they say "moderately supports" polonium as the cause of his death.
Yasser Arafat fell ill in October 2004 and was airlifted to France days later, after he failed to respond to treatment from a team of Mideast medical specialists.
Working with French and Russian teams, the Swiss obtained the samples last November after Arafat's body was exhumed from a mausoleum in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
"Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning," Dave Barclay, a U.K. forensic scientist and retired detective says. He's wholly convinced that Arafat was murdered. "We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don't know is who's holding the gun at the time.
"The level of polonium in Yasser Arafat's rib . is about 900 millibecquerels," Barclay said. "That is either 18 or 36 times the average, depending on the literature."
Arafat's widow received a copy of the report in Paris on Tuesday. "When they came with the results, I'm mourning Yasser again," Suha Arafat said. "It's like you just told me he died."
Most importantly, the Swiss report examined only the question of what killed Arafat. It did not address or point toward who killed him or how.
In addition, forensic experts from France and Russia also took samples from Arafat's corpse in 2012. Moscow has said its examination found no traces of polonium, while results from the French analysis have not yet been released.
Polonium-21 is highly radioactive, and is toxic if it enters the body by eating, breathing or through a wound. The compound occurs naturally and is present in the environment in low concentrations.
Arafat fell ill in October 2004 and was airlifted to France days later, after he failed to respond to treatment from a team of Mideast medical specialists. In early November, he lapsed into a gradually deepening coma and died November 11 of that year.
His death spawned a host of conspiracy theories, with many Palestinians accusing arch-rival Israel of complicity in his death. Israel rejects these allegations.
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