Yasser Arafat to eb exhumed, his bones tested for polonium poisoning
The body of Yasser Arafat is set to be exhumed tomorrow in an effort to determine whether his death in 2004 was caused by polonium-210 poisoning. Tests earlier this year found unusually high levels of the radioactive material on the former Palestinian leader's clothes and toothbrush, but it's still unclear whether Arafat was murdered. Could tests on his bones eight years after his death finally solve the mystery?
Why is Arafat's death such a puzzle?
When Arafat died at a French military hospital, his doctors could not establish a cause of death. Medical records obtained by The New York Times in 2005 suggest he died from a stroke resulting from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection. But Swiss scientists working with the Al Jazeera news organisation tested a urine stain on Arafat's underwear for radioactive polonium-210 and found that it measured 180 millibecquerels (mBq). They also found 54 mBq on his toothbrush. A control garment belonging to Arafat measured just 6.7 mBq.
Those results were deemed inconclusive, as Arafat's possessions could have been contaminated after his death. However, after hearing a deposition from Arafat's widow, Suha, French prosecutors decided to open a murder inquiry in August that is still ongoing.