Almost a decade after Yasser Arafat’s death, three teams of scientists are carrying out tests on his remains to determine whether he may have been poisoned by polonium-210.
Report by BBC Online
It is the same rare and highly radioactive element which killed Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
While Arafat’s tomb was resealed shortly after the exhumation, test results are expected to take at least several months.
The investigation raises important questions about how much evidence experts can expect to find at this stage, and whether they will be able to draw definite conclusions.
In March, first findings of polonium-210 in samples taken from Arafat’s urine, blood and clothes were deemed inconclusive. The evidence could have been contaminated after his fatal stroke, experts say.
But even if the new probe confirms the presence of polonium-210, scientists will face another hurdle — determining whether the levels were elevated enough to have killed the Palestinian leader.
For Bertrand Ludes, the director of Strasbourg’s Forensic Medicine Institute, the time lapse is less relevant with regards to the scientific outcome.
“If there has been polonium poisoning, it will have deeply penetrated into the body’s tissues and still be detectable today,” he told the BBC.
The real issues surrounding Arafat’s death will arise once scientists have completed their work, according to Ludes.