MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) – A Swiss laboratory said Thursday that tests have yielded evidence of polonium in the remains of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but that the radioactive isotope was not detected in sufficient enough quantities to definitively conclude he was poisoned.
Scientists at the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne said that the polonium-210 might have entered Arafat’s by natural means. Arafat’s body also contained traces of lead, the institute said.
Polonium is very rare in nature, but it has reportedly been detected in cigarette smoke from tobacco grown with certain man-made fertilizers.
Suha Arafat, the widow of the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader, gave her consent in August for the institute to analyze her husband’s remains.
The inquiry, which was also requested by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, followed an investigation by Al Jazeera television earlier this year that found “significant” traces of polonium-210 on some of Arafat's personal items that were given his widow after his death in 2004.
Suha Arafat says she believes her husband was the victim of a political assassination.
The head of a Russian forensics bureau said last month that it had found no sign of polonium in Arafat’s body, but later the government agency denied it had released any statement on its findings.
The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner died in a military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004, shortly after falling violently ill at his West Bank compound.
His widow and daughter opened a court case in France over the poisoning claims in July.
Israeli authorities have always strenuously dismissed widely circulated rumors that they were behind the death.