Radiation experts confirm polonium on Arafat clothing



Richard Ingham | AFP

Published — Tuesday 15 October 2013

Last update 28 December 2013 9:10 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PARIS: Swiss radiation experts have confirmed they found traces of polonium on clothing used by Yasser Arafat which “support the possibility” the veteran Palestinian leader was poisoned.
In a report published by The Lancet at the weekend, the team provide scientific details to media statements made in 2012 that they had found polonium on Arafat’s belongings.
Arafat died in France on November 11 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow’s request.
His remains were exhumed in November 2012 and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned — a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
That investigation is ongoing, conducted separately by teams in France, Switzerland and Russia.
In the Lancet report, eight scientists working at the Institute of Radiation Physics and University Center of Legal Medicine in Lausanne said they had carried out radiological tests on 75 samples.
Thirty-eight samples came from Arafat’s belongings, including underwear, a shapka hat, toothbrush, a hospital cap and sportswear, that were provided by the Palestinian leader’s widow Suha Arafat.
These were checked against 37 “reference” samples of cotton clothing that had been kept in an attic for 10 years and protected from dust.
“Several samples containing body fluid stains (blood and urine) contained higher unexplained polonium 210 activities than the reference samples,” says the case report.
“These findings support the possibility of Arafat’s poisoning with polonium 210.”
The polonium samples were measured at “several mBq,” or millibecquerels, a unit of radioactivity.
Computer modelling, which calculates polonium’s very fast decay, found that these levels “are compatible with a lethal ingestion of several GBq,” or several billion becquerels, in 2004, they said.
In addition, says the report, Arafat’s clinical symptoms “could not rule out” polonium poisoning.
These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and abdominal pain.
“Since ingested polonium 210 is eliminated partly through faeces, the gastro-intestinal syndrome, associated with multiple organ failure, could be a predominant cause of death,” the authors suggest.
They acknowledge, though, that Arafat showed no hair loss or decline in bone marrow activity — symptoms that typically occur in radiation poisoning.
The team regret that no post-mortem investigation was carried out after Arafat’s death.
“An autopsy would have been useful in this case because although potential polonium poisoning might not have been identified during that procedure, body samples could have been kept and tested afterwards.”
On July 3 2012, one of the authors, Francois Bochud, who is head of the Institute of Radiation Physics, told Al-Jazeera that the team “did find some significant polonium” in Arafat’s belongings.
“If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her husband (we need) to find a sample — I mean an exhumation — should provide with a sample that should have a very high quantity of polonium if he was poisoned,” he told the Mideast TV news channel.
Beatrice Schaad, head of communications at the Vaudois University Hospital Center (CHUV) which is in charge of the institute, said the case report was the “scientific version” of what was given to the media.
“There is nothing new compared with what was said” in 2012, she told AFP. “There is still no conclusion that he was poisoned.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdullah Al- Muallami unveiled a beautifully framed old kiswa (covering) of the door of the Holy Kaaba at one of the newly refurbished halls of the world body. The...
A policeman was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Qatif in the Eastern Province on Tuesday night.According to a spokesman of the Eastern Province police, the firing took place at 11:30 p.m. in a suburb called Al-Jishi.The targeted police officer was...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Show, one of the many events of Jeddah Summer Festival 36, is attracting a large number of visitors. The sound-and-light show is being run at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center.The show tells the story of the Bri...
JEDDAH: The Riyadh Traffic Department carried out extensive campaigns on the main streets, intersections and squares in the city to boost traffic safety levels and discourage bad driving.During the first 72 hours of the campaign, traffic personnel re...
RIYADH: One of two women infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) died here in Riyadh, while the other patient is being treated at a hospital in Al-Kharj, some 60 km from the capital. Since June 2012, the Ministry of...
AL-AHSA: Approximately 20,000 tons of Al-Ahsa dates are planned to be marketed abroad during the new dates season.Muhammad Ismail, director general of the King Abdullah City for Dates (KACD), said: “The authorities in the city are planning to increas...
JEDDAH: Al-Bagdadiya neighborhood residents in Jeddah are living in a state of worry because of 20 abandoned houses, which serve as hideouts for criminals.Residents said some houses are on the verge of collapse and have turned into shelters for crimi...
JEDDAH: A committee consisting of representatives from the Hail governorate, municipality, health department and the Saudi Food and Drugs Administration (SFDA) has ordered the closure of a restaurant in the city’s industrial area.Twelve people suffer...
The board of the Saudia Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization has announced that mandatory application of the regulations on new tires produced or sold in the Kingdom will commence in November this year.The board explained that the technical...
JEDDAH: The number of people with mental health issues or depression is increasing in Saudi Arabia due to urbanization, marital or relationship problems, and not being able to keep up with rapid progress. A Saudi mother said that her daughter suffers...
JUBAIL: Jubail beaches are expected to receive many tourists during September as a large number of people usually head to the city once the summer gets cooler to enjoy their holiday here.As part of the beach preparations for this season, the Social S...
RIYADH: More than 50 percent of vehicle users in the Kingdom are not satisfied with the after-sales service of auto agencies in the Kingdom.In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) to evaluate the performance of automobile...
JEDDAH: The Appeals Court has upheld the verdict issued by a specialized penal court which sentenced Dr. Said bin Zair to four years in prison from the date of his arrest in 1428.According to the ruling, the academician is also banned from traveling...
JEDDAH: Health authorities in the Eastern Province are expected to issue a decision soon against four Saudi nurses accused of “negligence” for an incident which led to the amputation of the hand of a Saudi girl after they tried to insert a needle in...
JEDDAH: The Jeddah municipality has closed down a popular restaurant following the discovery of a rat rummaging through food items.The rat act was captured on video and posted on social media websites. It went viral, prompting the authorities to laun...

Stay Connected

Facebook