Edition 2 No 32
World-famed institute shows Polonium Poisoning Caused Arafat’s Death
A study of Yaser Arafat’s medical file and belongings was carried out at the University Hospital Centre in Lausanne,Switzerland. The university’s Centre of Legal Medicine is considered one of the best forensic pathology labs in the world.
Al Jazeera reports that a nine-month investigation commissioned by the channel reveals that rumours about Arafat’s health condition were all untrue: Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.
Predictably, tests conducted in Paris where he was hospitalised and died had found no obvious traces of poison in Arafat’s system.
It is now clear from the study that “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 analyzed 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 director of the Swiss institute, Dr. Francois Bochud, stated emphatically:“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids.” If tests show that Arafat’s bones contain high levels of polonium, it is more conclusive proof that he was poisoned, doctors say.
The institute studied Arafat’s personal effects, which his widow provided to Al Jazeera, the first time they had been examined by a laboratory. Doctors did not find any traces of common heavy metals or conventional poisons, so they turned their attention to more obscure elements, including polonium. Al Jazeera states that Polonium is a “highly radioactive element used, among other things, to power spacecraft.”
The symptoms of polonium poisoning are usually severe diarrhoea, weight loss, and vomiting, all of which were symptoms Arafat exhibited in the days and weeks after he initially fell ill. Scientists in Lausanne identified found elevated levels of the element on Arafat’s belongings – in some cases, they were ten times higher than those on control subjects, random samples which were tested for comparison.
‘It was a crime’
Doctors in Lausanne, and elsewhere, also ruled out a range of other possible causes for Arafat’s death. “There was not liver cirrhosis, apparently no traces of cancer, no leukemia,” said Dr. Patrice Mangin, the head of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Lausanne University. “Concerning HIV, AIDS – there was no sign, and the symptomology was not suggesting these things.”
Their conclusions, of course, were based on documentation rather than firsthand examination. Doctors in Lausanne had hoped to study the blood and urine samples taken from Arafat while he was at Percy Military Hospital in France. But when she requested access, the hospital told his widow that those samples had been destroyed.
Several of the doctors who treated Arafat said that they were not allowed to discuss his case – even with Ms. Arafat’s permission – because it was considered a “military secret.” And most of his onetime doctors in Cairo and Tunis refused requests for interviews as well.
With those avenues of inquiry closed, Arafat’s body itself would be the last remaining source of conclusive evidence. Exhuming it would require approval from the Palestinian Authority; shipping bone samples outside of the West Bankwould require permission from the Israeli government.
A conclusive finding that Arafat was poisoned with polonium would not, of course, explain who killed him. It is a difficult element to produce, though – it requires a nuclear reactor – and the signature of the polonium in Arafat’s bones could provide some insight about its origin.