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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid