Yasser Arafat died in 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death (Reuters)
Yasser Arafat died in 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death (Reuters)

French experts have ruled out claims from Swiss scientists that the former Palestine leader Yasser Arafat died as a result of radiation poisoning.

Toxicologists from the University of Lausanne said they found 18 times the normal level of radioactive polonium-210 on the bones of Arafat following examinations on his body, fuelling speculation he was poisoned.

The widow of Arafat, Suha Arafat, said the findings proved he was murdered in what she described as the "crime of the century".

However, a team of French scientists who have also been examining Arafat's body said the most likely explanation is that he died of natural causes following an infection, according to French media.

"The report rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death," a source told AFP.

The third team of scientists from Russia who examined the body described the claims Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning as "unsubstantiated", according to Al-Jazeera.

Suha Arafat said she's "upset by these contradictions by the best European experts on the matter".

Arafat's body was exhumed last November, eight years after his death at the age of 75. Official medical reports said he died from a stroke after suffering from a blood condition known as disseminated intravascularcoagulation. No autopsy was carried out at the time of his death at the request of his widow.

Suspicion he may have been poisoned surfaced following the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko from polonium poisoning in 2006.

Meanwhile, a Palestine investigator claims he is close naming the people he believes are responsible for Arafat's death more than 10 years after he began his inquiry.

Tawfiq Tirawi, who is heading the official Palestinian Authority investigation, told Palestine Today television: "I promise that the next press conference will be the last, and will cast into the light of day everyone who perpetrated, took part in or conspired in the matter.

"We are in the last 15 minutes of the investigation."

Palestinians have long thought Israel to be responsible for the death of Arafat, an accusation they have fervently denied.

Israel's foreign ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said: "Israel is not involved in any way. There's no way the Palestinians can stick this on us. It's unreasonable and unsupported by facts. We will see yet another round of accusations, but there's no proof."