• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Lab to analyze Arafat remains for poisoning

AFP · 24 Aug 2012, 16:10

Published: 24 Aug 2012 11:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2012 16:10 GMT+02:00

"We are waiting for a formal, written letter from the lawyer before travelling to Ramallah" to carry out the probe, a spokesman for the lab at the Lausanne University Hospital Centre, Darcy Christen, told AFP.

"Time is of the essence, you could say it's a question of weeks, not months, because the traceability of polonium diminishes by half every 138 days," Christen said, noting that this has occurred 20 times since Arafat died aged 75 on November 11th 2004.

The Palestinian Authority also approved the probe, which was requested by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after a media investigation found elevated levels of polonium on some of Arafat's belongings, including clothing he wore before he died at a military hospital outside Paris.

French doctors had offered no explanation for Arafat's death, and many Palestinians believe he was poisoned by Israel, which denies the allegations.

The Palestinian committee probing Arafat's death was "preparing to counter any possible Israeli intervention" which would hinder the exhumation, investigator Tawfiq Tirawi said early this month.

Arafat's widow Suha Arafat and their daughter lodged a complaint for murder against persons unknown in France on July 31st over the radioactive poisoning claims.

Their lawyer in Geneva, Marc Bonnant, told Swiss television on Thursday that she "wanted this investigation ... she's the one pushing for it, and as a result we will go to Ramallah," the de facto capital of the occupied West Bank.

Polonium is a highly toxic radioactive substance that is rarely found outside military and scientific circles. It was used to kill Russian former spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking tea laced with the substance in London.

Story continues below…

The Swiss team will first carry out a fact-finding mission during which they will meet with representatives of the Palestinian Authority, inspect Arafat's mausoleum and assess technological and scientific capabilities on the ground, Christen said.

If they deem the testing to be viable, they will carry out a second mission to take samples from the body.

The Swiss experts were among several specialists consulted by the Al-Jazeera news channel, which commissioned the analysis of Arafat's personal effects.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Bern: shared parental leave ‘too expensive’
Switzerland has no statutory paternity leave. File photo: Robert Valencia

Parliament rejects a bill which would have granted fathers some paternity leave.

UN: Fear of ageing 'shortens your life'
The number of people over 60 worldwide is set to double by 2025. Photo: Hernan Pinera

New data from the World Health Organization highlights the widespread prevalence of ageist attitudes worldwide.

Swiss helicopter crash: technical fault ruled out
Two pilots died in the crash on the Gotthard pass. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Technical failure was not to blame for the crash involving a Swiss army helicopter on the Gotthard pass on Thursday.

Turkey angry after Swiss tout ‘kebab ban’
Is banning the burqa as 'foolish' as banning the kebab? Photo: Jason Ramos

Turkish kebab chefs are up in arms after they misunderstood a spoof campaign to ban the kebab in Switzerland.

Study: Swiss ski resorts are losing their snow
Snow was thin on the ground in Gstaad last December. Photo: The Local

Could spring skiing soon be a thing of the past?

UBS fined $15m for misselling investments
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss private banking giant is accused of selling risky derivative investments to inexperienced investors in the US.

Two dead in Swiss army helicopter crash
The crash happened near the hospice on the Gotthard pass. File photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Two people died and one other was injured when a helicopter crashed on the Gotthard pass in the Swiss alps on Wednesday.

Bern wants Swiss women to work longer
File photo: Candida Performa

The lower house of parliament has voted to extend women's retirement age by one year to 65.

11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
The Swiss - don't make them wait in the cold. Photo: Lara de Salis

Swiss student Lara de Salis, currently studying in the UK, explains why she’s sick of hearing foreigners spouting these old clichés.

Switzerland still world’s ‘most competitive’ nation
Switzerland: still enjoying the view from the top. File photo: Robert Boesch

Switzerland has topped the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness ranking for the eighth consecutive year.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: AFP
National
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
National
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: File
Politics
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Education
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Society
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
National
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Culture
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
National
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
National
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
Education
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
National
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Society
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
Photo: SAC
Lifestyle
Hiking: 7 incredible Swiss Alpine Club cabins
Photo: David Abercrombie
National
Swiss politician arrested over illegal entry of migrants
Photo: Coiffure X
National
Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
Photo: AFP
National
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
Photo: AFP
National
Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
Photo: The Local
National
Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
Photo:C Carlstead
National
Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
4,379
jobs available