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Press Conference to Discuss Results of Arafat Death Probe

Scientists who say Arafat probably died of poisoning will discuss the implications at Thursday press conference.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/7/2013, 12:35 PM

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
AFP photo

Swiss scientists who carried out a probe reportedly showing that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat probably died from polonium poisoning will give a press conference Thursday to discuss the results, the AFP news agency reports.
   
Patrice Mangin, who heads the Lausanne University Centre of Legal Medicine (CURML), and François Bochud, who heads the Institute for Radiation Physics (IRA), will speak to the media at 1:45 pm (12:45 GMT), their institutes said in a statement.
   
The two professors "will answer questions linked to the expert report handed Tuesday to representatives for Mrs Suha Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority," the statement said.
   
It will be the first time the Swiss experts speak publicly about the findings, which were published by Al-Jazeera television on Wednesday.
   
According to the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster, their tests on Arafat's remains "moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210".
   
Arafat died in France on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. At the time, his widow Suha Arafat refused to allow an autopsy.

Suha Arafat later allowed investigators to exhume his body after traces of polonium-210 were found on clothing that she provided to scientists as part of an Al Jazeera documentary.
      
She told Al-Jazeera that the poisoning amounted to "the assassination of a great leader" and a "political crime.”

Israeli leaders have cast doubt on the latest findings. "This is more soap opera than science,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the BBC.

Palmor said the investigations had been commissioned by "interested parties" such as Arafat's widow and the Palestinian Authority and had "never bothered" to look for some key data.

"The other huge hole in the theory is the absence of all access to the French hospital where Arafat died and to Arafat's medical files," said Palmor.

The PA’s determination to go ahead with the exhumation of Arafat’s body in 2012 raised concerns that PA leaders may have planted polonium on the body in an attempt to frame Israel.