15 Oct 2013

Experts confirm Arafat polonium find

9:22 am on 15 October 2013

Swiss radiation experts have confirmed they found traces of the radioactive agent polonium on the clothing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, supporting the possibility he was poisoned.

In a report published by The Lancet medical journal, the team adds scientific details to media statements made in 2012 that they had found polonium on Mr Arafat's belongings.

Mr Arafat died in France in 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death.

No post-mortem was carried out at the time, in line with his widow's request.

His remains were exhumed in November last year and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned.

The report says several samples containing blood and urine had higher unexplained levels of polonium than the reference samples, AFP reports.

Computer modelling, which calculates polonium's very fast decay, found the levels were compatible with a lethal ingestion.

In addition, says the report, Mr Arafat's clinical symptoms "could not rule out" polonium poisoning. The symptoms included nausea, vomiting, fatigue and abdominal pain.