The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned to death according to Swiss forensic tests.
A team of experts, including scientists from Lausanne University Hospital’s Institute of Radiation Physics, said “unexpectedly high” levels of radioactive polonium were found on his body, which was exhumed last year amid claims that he was murdered.
Their report says the results “moderately support” the theory that he died from poisoning.
“We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination,” said Arafat’s widow Suha, speaking from Paris. She believes the polonium must have been administered by someone “in his close circle”.
“This (poison) must have been put in his tea or coffee or in his water. Somebody who was close to him, he must have given to him this. So, it’s difficult to doubt but unfortunately it’s somebody of (from) his entourage,” she added.
The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) has now called for an international inquiry.
From the outset many Palestinians believed Israel killed their leader, an allegation it has always denied.
“This is more soap opera than science, it is the latest
episode in the soap in which Suha opposes Arafat’s successors,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, responding to the Swiss report.
Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel and led a subsequent uprising after the failure of talks in 2000 on a comprehensive agreement.
The veteran Palestinian leader died in 2004 in France where he had been flown for treatment after suddenly falling ill in Ramallah.
The official cause of death was a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.
But the Swiss report says numerous medical tests carried out at the time failed to find a likely cause of death that could explain the complicated symptoms Arafat was displaying.
It regrets that no post mortem examination was carried out after his death.