Reports from AFP
, Al Jazeera
and Toronto Star
reveal that after a nine month investigation into the cause of the Palestinian leader's death he may have been poisoned with polonium, a rare radioactive element. Scientific tests of the late leader's personnal belongings show abnormal signs of the element.
The Palestinian leader died on November 11, 2004. He had previously been besieged by the Israeli Army in Ramallah before being airlifted to a military hospital in Paris where he spent his final days as a very ill man, who finally succumbed to his illness. Following his death it was widely speculated that he could have died from either cirrhosis of the liver or HIV.
No autopsy was performed, the French officials refused to make public the precise cause of his death.
This new nine-month long investigation by Al Jazeera however has brought forth strong evidence that he may have in fact been poisoned by polonium.
Arafat's widowed wife Suha has asked the Palestinian Authority to exhume his body from his grave in Ramallah so that tests can be conducted on it too.
The laboratory research that found the traces of polonium was carried out in the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. The head of the Institute of Radiation Physics in that university Francois Bochud has stated that if Ms. Arafat wants conclusive evidence on how her husband died "an exhumation...should provide us with a sample that should have a very high quantity of polonium if he was poisoned."
Polonium was the element used in the assassination of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 in a London hospital after drinking tea that had been poisoned with the element.