Yasser Arafat Was Full of Polonium When He Died

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A Swiss forensic team has declared that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was practically bursting at the seams with polonium when he died in 2004, adding to fuel to the fire of long-running speculation that he was actually murdered. Al Jazeera obtained a 108-page report from the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne that says that Arafat's body had roughly sixteen times the regular levels of radioactive polonium in his system when he died. The Swiss report doesn't go so far as to say the polonium in Arafat's system was his cause of death.

This discovery ultimately concludes nothing about the cause of Arafat's death. The Swiss investigated whether Arafat had polonium in his system and concluded that, yes, Arafat had polonium in his system. Lots of it, in fact. But it's still too early to make any conclusions. "We can’t point a finger at anyone," Suha Arafat, the leader's surviving wife, told Al Jazeera. "The French are conducting a serious investigation. It takes time."

Radioactive polonium poisoning has long been speculated as the cause of the Palestinian leader's sudden illness that led to his eventual demise. (It's also been implicated in a few high profile assassinations, mostly involving Russians.) A previous Al Jazeera documentary suggested Arafat was poisoned, and prompted the French to investigate into Arafat's unsolved murder. Suha Arafat approved the exhumation of Arafat's remains for forensic analysis. Pieces of tissue were sent to Swiss, French and Russian labs for separate investigations. The French and Russian reports should come soon. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.