Arafat’s widow sets record straight on Russian analysis of husband's body

Suha Arafat poses next to a portrait of her late husband Yasser Arafat at her home in Malta (AFP Photo / Matthew Mirabelli)
The widow of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat strongly denies claims that she has refused a Russian team of experts access to analyze the exhumed remains of her husband for radiation poisoning, she told RT in an exclusive interview.

­Immediately after Arafat's bone samples were passed on to a team of Russian, Swiss and French scientists for investigation on November 27, Figaro quoted Suha Arafat, the widow of the resistance leader, now living in Paris, as asking, "What do the Russian experts have to do with the case?"

She expressed quite a different view to RT. In regards to the quote in the French media, Mrs. Arafat says, "this is false – they aim to distort my name; on the contrary, I feel proud that there are Russian experts working on the case."

Furthermore, she denied Figaro's claim that she had accused the Russians of poisoning her husband for hire. She has threatened to sue the newspaper, as she believes she was misquoted in order "to distort my name and my image before the Russian public."

Figaro also wrote that Mrs. Arafat claimed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' invitation for the Russian team to participate in the international investigation was a conspiracy to conceal the truth. Instead, the widow says that she "blindly trusts them," referring to the Russian scientists.

The international team of experts will carry out a number of analyses on sixty samples obtained from November's exhumation to find traces of Polonium-210, which is suspected of killing the Palestinian leader in 2004.

The investigation is headed by Tawfiq Tirawi, and relies on the help of scientists such as toxicologists, pathologists, judicial medical experts and radiation specialists to determine if foul play with deadly radiological material was involved in Arafat's death.

The medical records of the Palestinian icon, who died at a military hospital in France, claim a stroke from a blood disorder as the cause of death.

Suha Arafat hopes that the latest probe will bring clarity into the cause of her husband death, as she refused to agree to the initial autopsy.

"It takes four to five months until the results of a DNA test can be shown, to see whether there are signs of radiation. We have to wait for the results, which will be provided by the greatest world experts – from Russia, Switzerland and France. I do hope the results will be shown very quickly," she told RT.

Polonium-210 decays with half-life of 50 days, and chances of finding the levels of radiation are slim, especially given the fact that Arafat has been dead and buried for eight years. But the experts have been entrusted to find isotopes produced by Polonium's radioactive decay.

If assassination is discovered in the case, Suha Arafat hopes to seek international justice. "If poisoning is proved, a complaint should be presented before the International [Criminal] Court, of which we are members now. I don’t know what are the exact steps – surely Palestine, which is a state now, can sue the culprit."

Following Arafat's death, Israel has been in the spotlight as the likely candidate for the Palestinian leader's assassination. Tel Aviv denies involvement. 

But as far as Mrs. Arafat is concerned, "I cannot accuse anybody or any party of standing behind the poisoning. The case is in the hands of justice, and in the hands of the Russian, Swiss and French experts."