Nine years after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and more than a year after Al Jazeera broadcast a report claiming he died of radiation exposure to polonium 210, the circumstances of Arafat’s death remain a mystery.
Since February of last year, however, teams of Swiss toxicology experts have been seeking to solve the riddle. They haven’t finalized the results of their study and there is no date set for publication of their findings, but an article published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet by the eight experts involved in the investigation describes the series of testing ordered by Arafat’s widow, Suha.
In February of last year, she gave the researchers full access to her husband’s medical file and to his personal effects in an effort to confirm her claim that he had been poisoned. In the Lancet article, the researchers state that DNA testing has confirmed the items did indeed belong to the Palestinian president. They added, however, that tests performed on his personal belongings showed no sign of poisoning.
In an effort to assess the possibility that he ingested polonium 210 in his food or drink, the researchers have focused their investigation on testing of stains on personal items including Arafat’s underwear, toothbrush, a hospital cap and his track suit, in addition to other items. A total of 75 items were tested including 38 used by Arafat. The remaining objects were not the Palestinian leader’s and were tested to establish a baseline for purposes of comparison.
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