MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) – Scientific tests showed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of natural causes and not radioactive poisoning, and there is no need to examine his remains again, a Russian expert said on Thursday.
“The tests were comprehensive and there’s no need for re-examination. This person died of natural causes, not because of radioactive poisoning,” the head of Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, Vladimir Uiba, told reporters.
The Palestinian leader died in a French military hospital in 2004, shortly after falling violently ill at his West Bank compound. Palestinians have long suspected Israel of poisoning him with radioactive polonium, but Israel has consistently denied such accusations.
A spokesman for the Israeli Interior Ministry, Yigal Palmor, expressed hope that the findings by Russian and French experts would “end these groundless accusations and mad conspiracy theories similar to the polonium saga.”
Arafat's widow Suha sought an investigation into his death in France. The inquiry, 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 to his widow after his death in 2004.
The remains were exhumed and various tests carried out on them by Russian, French and Swiss scientists.
A Swiss lab said that polonium poisoning was possible, but French scientists disagreed.
The head of a Russian forensics bureau said last month in a report quoted by Al Jazeera that it had found no conclusive sign of polonium in Arafat’s body, but other scientists quoted by the channel doubted the Russian bureau's methodology.
Updated with Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement