Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


No 'proof' Arafat was poisoned: Report

04 December 2013, 12:32

Paris - French scientists looking into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have dismissed poisoning by radioactive polonium, his widow announced on Tuesday. The results contradict earlier findings by a Swiss lab, and mean it's still unclear how Arafat died nine years ago.

Teams of scientists from three countries were appointed to determine whether polonium played a role in his death in a French military hospital in 2004. Palestinians have long suspected Israel of poisoning him, which Israel denies.

After a 2012 report that traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat's clothing, Arafat's widow filed a legal complaint in France seeking an investigation into whether he was murdered.

As part of that investigation, French investigators had Arafat's remains exhumed and ordered genetic, toxicology, medical, anatomical and radiation tests on them. Suha Arafat and her lawyers were notified on Tuesday of the results, less than a month after the Swiss team issued their report.


The French experts found traces of polonium but came to different conclusions than the Swiss about where they came from, finding that it was "of natural environmental origin," Suha Arafat said.

The French finding "dismisses the hypothesis of poisoning by polonium-210," she said.

The Swiss scientists said they found elevated traces of polonium-210 and lead, and that the timeframe of Arafat's illness and death was consistent with poisoning from ingesting polonium.

Arafat's widow and her legal team attributed the difference to the potential role of radioactive radon gas around the burial cloth and body in the tomb. Its presence was detected and measured by both the French and the Swiss. Radon, which is found naturally, transforms into polonium in a naturally occurring process.

Arafat and her lawyers reached the conclusion after consulting private experts to help them understand the French report.

Very narrow approach

"There is a doubt," Arafat said. "Is it the poisoned body that contaminated the immediate external environment, the Swiss thesis or the opposite, is it the external environment, the radioactive radon gas, that explains the presence of polonium-210 in the body."

Pierre-Olivier Sur, Suha Arafat's French lawyer, said he will ask the three investigating magistrates handling the case to include the Swiss report in the probe and compare them. He said he would like to see a meeting of the Swiss and French scientists to hash out differences.

"I think the French experts followed a very, very narrow approach," said another lawyer for Arafat, Saad Djebbar, arguing that the Swiss took more extensive environmental samples than the French scientists.

Arafat died on 11 November 2004, a month after falling ill at his West Bank headquarters. At the time, French doctors said he died of a stroke and had a blood-clotting problem, but records were inconclusive about what caused that condition.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Jayne Zack
I am in ODM to stay, Busia Depu...

Busia Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa told Deputy President William on the face that he was in the Orange Democratic Movement to stay. Read more...

Boda Boda operators in Bahati rai...

Motorbike Boda Boda operators from Bahati Sub county on Tuesday took to the streets of Nakuru’s CBD lamenting over what they term is harassment by patrol police officers in the area. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Human Rights activist lives in fe...

The Human rights fraternity in Mombasa is currently living in fear after the home of one of the vocal human rights champion was invaded on Monday night. Read more...

Submitted by
kel wesh
Poisonous milk powder siezed by K...

The Kenya Revenue Authority has seized two containers with illegal milk powder which had been declared as gypsum board at Mombasa port. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be ready for protests, Raila warn...

Expect protests if meddling with Auditor General continues, Raila Odinga has said. Read more...

Submitted by
Kenya says will return to interna...

Kenya will return to international markets to borrow when it feels the time is right, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said on Tuesday. Read more...