Traces of polonium-210 have been found on clothing used by Yasser Arafat, Swiss radiation experts have confirmed.
The existence of the radioactive substance on Arafat’s effects was first reported last year, sparking the decision to exhume his corpse from its Ramallah resting place in November.
Now official details of the tests on his belongings have been published in a report in The Lancet journal.
It says 38 items owned by Arafat, including underwear and a toothbrush, were analysed and that traces of the substance were found, which “support the possibility of Arafat’s poisoning with polonium-210.”
It adds: "Although the absence of myelosuppression [bone marrow deficiency] and hair loss does not favour acute radiation syndrome, symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhoea, and anorexia, followed by hepatic and renal failures, might suggest radioactive poisoning."
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The Palestine Liberation Organisation leader died mysteriously in Paris, following a short illness, prompting suspicions he had been poisoned.
French officials determined he died from a sudden stroke caused by a blood disorder.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, who lives in the French capital, started legal proceedings in June last year, claiming her late husband, who died in a French military hospital in 2004, was poisoned with polonium-210, the same substance found to have killed Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
The accusation came as an investigation by Al Jazeera revealed that Swiss scientists had discovered high levels of the radioactive element on the personal effects of the former leader.
The suggestion of polonium has reinforced the long-standing belief of many Palestinians that Arafat was assassinated on the orders of Ariel Sharon.
Israel has repeatedly denied killing Arafat and called on the Palestinian leadership to release his medical records, which it has refused.
The Lancet adds: "At the time of publication, the remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed and are being investigated for cause of death as a result of the findings of the case reported here."