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November 06, 2013

Swiss forensics examiners found sufficient traces of the deadly radioactive isotope polonium-210 in the exhumed remains of Yasser Arafat to conclude with relative certainty that the late Palestinian leader died of poisoning in 2004,  Al Jazeera channel reported Wednesday.

The Qatar-based broadcaster said it had obtained exclusive access to the 108-page report of the University Center of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, which it posted on its website.

Examination of bone fragments, decomposed tissue and body fluids taken from Arafat's remains at his West Bank tomb a year ago found at least 18 times the normal level of polonium, the Swiss scientists reported.

The Swiss team was one of three given forensic material for investigation after Arafat's widow, Suha, gave Al Jazeera access to the late Palestinian leader's personal effects and medical records in 2011 in hopes of determining his cause of death, the network said. Results of the other two probes, by Russian and French experts, have yet to be reported.

Arafat died Nov. 11, 2004, at 75, less than a month after suddenly falling ill with what doctors then thought to beinfluenza. But the vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain that he complained of are also symptoms of radiation poisoning -- a little-known hazard prior to its use to kill KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, Al Jazeera noted.

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