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Widow wants Arafat's body exhumed

Suha Arafat, the widow of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Suha Arafat, the widow of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. AAP Images

SUSPICIONS that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the victim of radioactive poisoning have prompted his widow to ask that her former husband's body be exhumed for testing.

At the time of his death in November 2004, there was little indication of what killed him even as he was consumed by a sudden illness.

The revelations follow an investigation by news organisation Al-Jazeera.

It reported that Mr Arafat's personal wares, including clothes and toothbrush, were shown to contain "abnormal levels of polonium", a rare radioactive element.

The testing was done at a Swiss forensics laboratory.

Polonium became notorious following the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy gone rogue who was found to have had the radioactive material slipped into his tea as he sat at a sushi restaurant.

The element can only be created through the use of a nuclear reactor, although Al-Jazeera's investigation makes no allegation of who was behind the poisoning.

Mr Arafat's widow Suha said there could be "very substantial, very important results" from more testing.

"I know the Palestinian Authority has been trying to discover what Yasser died from," Ms Arafat said. 

Topics:  poisoning


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