Forensic tests carried out by a lab in Switzerland on the corpse of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat “moderately support” the theory that he was poisoned by a deadly radioactive substance, reports al-Jazeera.
Scientists found levels of polonium at 18 times higher than the norm, according a report released today.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Corpse Was Exuhmed in 2012
In November 2012, former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s body was exhumed from his final resting place in Ramallah, reported The Guardian.
Arafat died at age 75 in a Paris military hospital in November 2004. The question marks over Arafat’s suspicious death had been raised by his widow, Suha Arafat, who described him as healthy prior to his passing. Traces of polonium had also been found on his clothing, leading Suha Arafat to hire a Swiss toxicology lab to conduct an independent investigation into Arafat’s death.
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2. The Report States ‘Death Was the Consequence of Poisoning’
The levels of polonium-210 in Arafat’s ribs, pelvis and “in soil that absorbed his bodily fluids” were 18 times the level of a normal person. The report does state that there may be question marks over the quality of samples due to the decaying state of Arafat’s corpse.
The report has been shared with Suha Arafat, the Palestinian Authority and al-Jazeera.
3. His Widow Has Said Her Husband’s Death is the ‘Crime of the Century’
In an interview with The Guaridan, Suha Arafat said: “It’s shocking… I remember how Yasser was shrinking in the hospital, how in his eyes there were a lot of questions. Death is a fate in life, it is everybody’s fate, but when it’s poison it’s terrible. We are mourning him again now.” She had previously spoken of a “conspiracy to get rid of him.”
A foreign ministry spokesman for Israel, Yigal Palmor, has dismissed the reports saying: “The Swiss findings are not conclusive…Israel is not involved in any way.”
4. In August, a French Murder Inquiry Was Launched Probing Arafat’s Death
French prosecutors began a murder inquiry into Arafat’s death in Paris in August. The rumors of polonium-210 in Arafat’s system were enough to begin a further investigation into the death, reports The Guardian.
The official report at the time stated that Arafat died after suffering a massive stroke.
5. Polonium Killed a Russian Agent 2006
Former Russian agent, Alexander Litvienko, died in London in 2006 in mysterious circumstances. His body had been infected with polonium 210, with many conspiracy theorists fingering the KGB as the culprits in the case. Since being exiled by Russia in 2000, Litvienko had been an outspoken critic of the Russian regime, especially Vladimir Putin. He was the first known fatal-victim of polonium 210.