Following Al Jazeera's report that Yasser Arafat may have died of poisoning after the finding of radioactive traces on his belongings by a Swiss institute, permission to exhume the remains of Arafat has been given by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Traces of radioactive isotope Polonium-210 were found Wednesday by the Institute de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the clothing of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, according to Al Jazeera investigation. Because the clothing was reported worn by the leader in his last days, the claim reignited a cauldron of conspiracy theories about his mysterious death.
Arafat's widow, 75-year-old's Suha, has approved the exhumation proposed by Palestinian authority so the claim can be further investigated. There was a theory that he was assasinated by Mossad, and other speculative reports regarding the cause of his death said that he had contracted cancer, cirrhosis, or even HIV. Experts warned that even after the detection of polonium-210, getting answers on the cause of death will be tough.
"The claims are likely to renew long-held Palestinian suspicions that the Israeli spy agency Mossad assassinated Arafat, who died in a Paris hospital in November, 2004." - The TelegraphThe findings have led Suha Arafat, his widow, to ask the Palestinian Authority to exhume her late husband’s body from its grave in Ramallah. If tests show that Arafat’s bones contain high levels of polonium, it would be more conclusive proof that he was poisoned, doctors say. “I know the Palestinian Authority has been trying to discover what Yasser died from,” Suha Arafat said in an interview. “And now we are helping them. We have very substantial, very important results.” - Aljazeera
Polonium-210 traces found Wednesday on Arafat's underwear was at a level of 180 millibecquerels, higher than 20 times the dose to kill an average human being. This claim was confirmed by Dr Francois Bochod, the director of the institute, saying that there had been an 'unexplained, elevated amount' of polonium found on the former leader. Tha same radioactive substance killed Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko six years ago.
"But polonium’s most famous victim was Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy-turned-dissident who died in London in 2006 after a lingering illness. A British inquiry found that he was poisoned with polonium slipped into his tea at a sushi restaurant" - Aljazeera
High level of polonium-210 had been surprisingly found in Arafat's belongings, said the spokesman of the institute, Darcy Christen, to Reuter. The spokesman also said that medical reports of the late Palestinian leader were inconsistent with polonium-210, and whether the Palestinian leader was poisoned or not could not be taken as conclusions .
Arafat died in a French military hospital in November 2004. At the time, French doctors said Arafat died of a massive stroke. According to French medical records, he had suffered inflammation, jaundice and a blood condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC. He led PLO, Palestinian Liberation Organisaton, since 1960's and made peace with Jewish state in 1993.