News / Middle East

Swiss Confirm Polonium in Arafat's Remains

Swiss Confirm Polonium in Arafat's Remainsi
X
November 08, 2013 5:43 AM
Swiss forensic scientists have confirmed that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ingested lethal radioactive polonium before his death nine years ago - at such high levels that it could not have been an accident.
Swiss Confirm Polonium in Arafat's Remains
VOA News
Swiss forensic scientists have confirmed that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ingested lethal radioactive polonium before his death nine years ago - at such high levels that it could not have been an accident.

The Swiss lab examined Arafat's remains and his underclothes and a travel bag that he had with him in the days before his death in a Paris hospital. The scientists concluded the radioactive element was concentrated to a level that could not have occurred in nature.

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Lausanne, the Swiss experts said their test results neither confirmed nor denied that polonium was the specific cause of Arafat's death, but they added there was "moderate" backing for the idea that the 75-year-old Palestinian leader was poisoned by the highly radioactive substance.
 
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.    

Palestinian officials have long alleged that Israel poisoned Arafat.  Israel has always denied that it played any role in Arafat's death, and repeated that statement Thursday.

The Israeli energy minister, Silvan Shalom, who was foreign minister and a member of Israel's "security cabinet" in 2004, said, "We never made a decision to harm him physically."

Shalom told Israel Radio: "In my opinion, this is a tempest in a tea cup. But even if it was [poisoning], it certainly was not Israel. Maybe someone else inside had thoughts or an interest to do it."

Arafat's widow, Suha, called on the Palestinian leadership to seek justice for her husband.

Speaking from Doha, Qatar, on Thursday, she told a reporter ((Associated Press)) that only countries with nuclear capabilities have access to polonium. She did not specifically mention Israel.

The findings from specialists at the University of Lausanne were released Wednesday in a 108-page report and posted online by the al-Jazeera television network, which commissioned the study, together with Suha Arafat.

The Swiss document appears to provide the first clear-cut sign that Arafat did not die of natural causes. But its authors framed their analysis cautiously, saying the results "moderately support the proposition" that polonium-210 - a colorless, odorless and nearly impossible to detect isotope - killed him.

The Swiss analysis took into account the time lapse since Arafat's death and the nature and quality of the specimens examined.

Arafat fell ill in October 2004 and was airlifted to France days later, after he failed to respond to treatment from a team of medical specialists from the Middle East. In early November, he lapsed into a gradually deepening coma, and died November 11.

In a separate and still controversial case that arose two years later, British investigators directly linked polonium-210 to the poisoning death of one-time Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who had defected to London.  From his death bed, Litvinenko said he believed Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin was to blame for his imminent death.

Russia later denied British requests to hand over a key suspect in the investigation of Litvinenko's murder. The case remains open.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid