Al Jazeera: Former Palestinian leader Arafat “poisoned with polonium”

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Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned with the drug polonium, new information obtained exclusively by the news organization Al Jazeera reveals.

The logo of Al Jazeera.

The logo of Al Jazeera.

The channel confirmed their investigation early Wednesday morning in a statement emailed first to The Desk. Along with on-air reports, Al Jazeera has launched a special web portal with details on their investigation.

Arafat, the former leader of the Palestinian National Authority, died in 2004 after lapsing into a coma. The illness that led to his death was initially reported as the “flu.” The cause of his death has been subject to much debate since then.

The full release from Al Jazeera follows:

Doha, 6 November 2013 — Studies obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera reveal Swiss scientists have discovered levels of polonium at least 18 times higher than normal in the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s ribs, pelvis and in soil that absorbed his remains.

They say their data is compatible with the theory that the Palestinian leader was poisoned with the radioactive element at a level up to 84 per cent.

David Barclay, a leading forensic pathologist now says it is almost certain the former Palestinian leader was poisoned in November 2004.

“If I was a judge and jury, this is absolutely stone cold certain.  This is beyond any doubt in my opinion that it was polonium that caused the death of Yasser Arafat.”

Reacting to the findings of the Swiss investigation, Suha Arafat, the widow of the late Palestinian leader said: “When they came with the results, I’m mourning Yasser again.  It’s like you just told me he died. I will not stop.  Me and my daughter will go to all courts in all over the world to punish who did this crime.”

Al Jazeera obtained the 108-page report prepared by Swiss scientists who participated in the exhumation of Arafat’s body last November. The investigation was triggered by an earlier Al Jazeera investigation in July 2012.

Al Jazeera will broadcast a documentary detailing the findings of the investigation at 1900 GMT.

“What Killed Arafat” was an investigation by Al Jazeera in July 2012 which revealed Arafat’s final personal belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.

Those personal effects, which were analysed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat’s blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.

The findings led Suha Arafat, his widow, to ask the Palestinian Authority to exhume her late husband’s body from its grave in Ramallah in November 2012.