English: Yasser Arafat at ‘From Peacemaking to Peacebuilding’ at the Annual Meeting 2001 of the World Economic Forum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Al Jazeera investigation has revealed that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been killed by radioactive poison.
Source for article and video [Guardian]
Harriet-Sherwood report from Ramallah
Yasser Arafat’s exhumation may answer questions over his death
Nearly eight years after the Palestinian leader died, his body is to be exhumed from its Ramallah tomb. Was he poisoned with polonium, as some believe?
The exhumation of Arafat’s body will be a delicate and emotive undertaking, given the deep affection and respect in which he continues to be held by Palestinians almost eight years after his death. The corpse will be removed from the tomb and transferred to a hospital in Ramallah for samples to be taken and tested for the presence of toxins.
According to Tawfik Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian committee investigating the death and one of those who was holed up with Arafat in the Muqata under Israeli siege for more than two years, there will be no cameras to record the event. “Due to the particular situation, there will probably be no media coverage. It’s very difficult to allow journalists to be around because of all the difficulties of the operation,” he told the Guardian.
Tirawi has requested details of the French investigating magistrates’ requirements in order to iron out any objections. But the Palestinian leadership has stated its willingness in principle to co-operate with the murder inquiry, launched last month at the request of Arafat’s widow, Suha, a French citizen. Her move followed a claim in July, broadcast by al-Jazeera, by a Swiss laboratory that it had detected the presence of a deadly radioactive substance, polonium-210, on Arafat’s personal effects.
Despite having refused permission for an autopsy on Arafat’s body, last year Suha handed over items including a toothbrush and underwear to scientists at the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne.
“We measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” François Bochud, the institute’s director, told al-Jazeera. Saying tests on Arafat’s corpse were required to confirm the findings, Bochud added: “We have to do it quite fast because polonium is decaying, so if we wait for too long, any possible proof will disappear.”
Polonium, the substance linked to the death of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, depletes rapidly in bones and soft tissue. The institute has estimated a 50% chance of finding traces in samples from Arafat’s body.
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