Al Jazeera reports:
Swiss scientists who conducted tests on samples taken from Yasser Arafat’s body have found at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium in his remains. The scientists said that they were confident up to an 83 percent level that the late Palestinian leader was poisoned with it, which they said “moderately supports” polonium as the cause of his death.
A 108-page report (PDF) by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, which was obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera, found unnaturally high levels of polonium in Arafat’s ribs and pelvis, and in soil stained with his decaying organs.
The Swiss scientists, along with French and Russian teams, obtained the samples last November after his body was exhumed from a mausoleum in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
Dave Barclay, a renowned U.K. forensic scientist and retired detective, told Al Jazeera that with these results he was wholly convinced that Arafat was murdered.
“Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning,” he said. “We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don’t know is who’s holding the gun at the time.”
“The level of polonium in Yasser Arafat’s rib…is about 900 milibecquerels,” Barclay said. “That is either 18 or 36 times the average, depending on the literature.”
UPDATE: I just glanced at the Swiss report. It is not the slam dunk that Al Jazeera pretends, although the conclusion is that “the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210.”
Arguments against it include the fact that polonium was itself not found on Arafat’s remains, but lead-210 was, which is assumed to be masking the polonium. The existence of the lead-210 could not be adequately explained by other factors (like smoking or the high levels of radon in the grave.) The report also points out that the lead concentrations were not uniform on his body, and they assume that if it had a different source it would be.
The report is relying on both the toxicology reports and the previous report of polonium on his underwear and other personal effects. If those were tainted, the conclusions might be different.
There is very little forensics literature about the effects of ingesting polonium so anything that the report says about the month delay between Arafat’s meal that got him sick and his death is pure guesswork.
While there are valid issues brought up in the report, it is not definitive.
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