Arafat Poisoned With Polonium?

A French court has opened a murder inquiry into the death of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; his body will be exhumed tomorrow, eight years after his death.

The Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics has discovered high levels of radioactive polonium on his clothing.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise. He died in a Paris hospital in November 2004, a month after being flown, seriously ill, from his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death, and no autopsy was performed in deference to his widow's request at the time, when Arafat died at 75.

Fans of Golden Age science fiction author Edmond Hamilton may recall a very early reference to the use of radioactive substances as an assassination weapon in his 1938 short story Murder in the Void:

"Don't touch him with your bare hands!" Crane cried.

For the body of the poisoned man was beginning to glow faintly, his face giving off a feeble, eery white light!

"This man was poisoned with a super-powerful radium salt," Rab Crane declared to the horrified officers. "He died instantly in awful agony and his whole body is charged with radioactive force now and will have to be handled with lead gloves. Someone substituted the radium salt for the ordinary salt in this salt shaker."
(Read more about Hamilton's radium salt)

Via NBC News.

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