• Switzerland's news in English

Palestinians seek probe into Arafat's 'killing'

AFP · 7 Nov 2013, 23:23

Published: 07 Nov 2013 23:23 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

With the scientific analysis purportedly showing how the Palestinian leader had died, a senior figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization called for an international inquiry to determine who was responsible.
But speaking to reporters in Lausanne, the Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied that polonium was the actual source of his death, although they provided "moderate" backing for the idea he was poisoned by the rare and highly radioactive element.
And they said the quantity of the deadly substance found on his remains pointed to the involvement of a third party.
"We can't say that polonium was the source of his death... nor can we rule it out," said Professor François Bochud of the Lausanne Institute of Applied Radiophysics.
Bochud's lab, which is part of Switzerland's respected Vaudois University Hospital Centre, measured levels of polonium up to 20 times higher than it is used to detecting.

'Third party involvement'

"By definition, that indicates third party involvement," he said.
"Our results offer moderate backing for the theory of poisoning."
Arafat died in France on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75 after falling sick a month earlier, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death.
In November 2012 his remains were exhumed and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned —  a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
Bochud's colleague Patrice Mangin said the lab could have been categorical in its findings if it had been able to obtain biological samples immediately after Arafat's death.
But no post-mortem was performed at the time, at the request of his widow.
The Swiss lab results were first published on Wednesday by the Qatar-based satellite channel, Al-Jazeera.
Since Arafat's death, Palestinian society has long given currency to the rumour that he was murdered, with Israel the party most often blamed.
But there has never been any proof.
With the publication of the Swiss report, Palestinian officials said there was no longer any doubt, and demanded a formal international inquiry into who was responsible.
"The results prove Arafat was poisoned by polonium," said senior PLO official Wasel Abu Yusef.
"This substance is owned by states, not people, meaning that the crime was committed by a state," he told AFP calling for an "international committee" to probe the killing along the lines of the one that investigated the murder of Lebanon's Rafiq Hariri.
"From the day of Arafat's death, the Palestinian street knew Arafat was poisoned to death, but no one knew what the substance was," political analyst Hani al-Masri told AFP.
"Palestinians are now expecting their leadership to follow up on these results."
Speaking to Euronews on Thursday, Arafat's widow Suha said the poison must have been administered to her husband by a traitor in his entourage.
"This must have been put in his tea or in his coffee or in his water," she said.

Somebody who was near him must have given him this," she said.
"It's so difficult to doubt, but unfortunately it's somebody (from) his entourage."
Other senior Palestinian officials agreed that the limited availability of polonium-210 strongly suggested the involvement of a foreign government.
"The means used and the fact it was polonium — which only states use — suggest that it was a decision taken at a high level in one of those countries," senior PLO executive Ahmed Majdalani told AFP.

'Soap opera'

Story continues below…

But Israel has repeatedly denied any involvement in Arafat's death, with its foreign ministry describing the allegations as a long-running "soap opera."
A top aide to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was in power when Arafat died, told AFP the premier had ordered that no harm be done to the Palestinian leader.
"Ariel Sharon ordered that everything be done to ensure that Arafat, who was at the time living inside his besieged Muqataa compound, was not killed by our soldiers," Raanan Gissin told AFP.
"His instructions were to take every precaution to avoid Israel being accused of Arafat's death.
"Instead of launching baseless accusations against Israel, the Palestinians would be better to question those in Arafat's entourage who had an interest in his death and above all getting their hands on the money he controlled," said Gissin.
Some 60 samples were taken from Arafat's remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow's request.
So far, there has been no word on the French or the Russian test results.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available