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Russian researchers say Arafat was not poisoned

Around 60 samples were taken from the remains of the Palestinian leader Keystone

Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not poisoned with polonium, Russian researchers have said. The newest results agree with French findings released in December 2013 and partly contradict a Swiss report released in November 2013.

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical and Biological Agency, said on Thursday that Arafat’s death at a military hospital in France in 2004 was “natural and not caused by radiation”, according to Russia’s state news agency.

Around 60 samples were taken from the remains of the Palestinian leader in November 2012 after he was exhumed in Ramallah. The samples were divided between Swiss, Russian and French investigators, who analysed them at the request of Arafat’s wife.

In November 2013 Swiss researchers said they had found evidence that Arafat may have been poisoned with polonium, after traces were found in soil and bone samples taken from his grave as well as clothing, but they could not be absolutely sure.

French scientists then suggested in December that the above-average levels of the poison polonium that were found in Arafat’s grave could be explained by a natural source of radon, which can decay into polonium.

Tests were conducted on very small specimens, eight years after Arafat’s death under mysterious circumstances.

Palestinians have long suspected Israel of poisoning Arafat, who spent much of his life fighting for Palestinian self-determination. Israel denies the claim.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR