Menu JTA Search

Report shows Yasser Arafat was poisoned, wife says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The widow of Yasser Arafat said the results of forensic tests show the former Palestinian leader was poisoned to death.

Samples taken from Arafat’s exhumed body showed that he was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210, Suha Arafat said, basing her remarks on a 108-page report released to her on Tuesday by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance that is rarely found outside military and scientific circles. The substance was found in Arafat’s ribs and pelvis, and in the soil beneath where his body was buried, according to Al Jazeera America.

Sura Arafat had filed legal action in July 2012 asking French authorities to look into claims that her husband was poisoned. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat’s belongings. French prosecutors in August 2012 opened a murder inquiry into the death of Arafat.

“We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination,” Suha Arafat told Reuters in Paris on Wednesday. She met members of the Swiss forensic team in Geneva on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Suha Arafat did not accuse any country or person of the alleged murder and acknowledged that her husband had many enemies, Reuters reported.

Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. He fell violently ill in October 2004 and died two weeks later, at the age of 75, in a Paris military hospital.

The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some had contended that Arafat died of AIDS.

Many Palestinians continue to believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an obstacle to peace. Israel has denied any involvement.

NEXT STORY