Yasser Arafat's Wife: Of Course It Was Murder

Suha Arafat tells ABC News her husband was murdered.

ByABC News
November 6, 2013, 6:16 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon— -- In the wake of an independent Swiss report that found Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had "unexpected high activity" of polonium in his remains, his widow says there's no doubt that he was murdered with the radioactive element.

"The findings confirm what we always [believed] and what the Swiss lab always [believed]," Suha Arafat told ABC News in a phone interview. "It's a very sad day; it's a political crime."

The Swiss report released Wednesday followed findings last year that showed abnormal levels of polonium in several of Arafat's personal effects. Last November, his body was exhumed from its mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah and tissue samples were taken. They were distributed to separate Swiss, Russian and French teams.

"When you ask [the Swiss scientists] the question directly, they will tell you, 'Of course it's a murder,'" Suha Arafat said. "There's no other explanation."

To most Palestinians, this report will come as little surprise: They finger Israel with his death. But Suha won't name a suspect, only going so far as to say a nuclear country must be behind it, because it takes a nuclear reactor to produce this type of polonium.

"I will not accuse anybody without having proof in my hands," she said. "I don't want to jump into any conclusions before all the inquiries are done correctly and professionally."

Israel has repeatedly denied any involvement in Arafat's death, calling Wednesday's report "more soap opera than science, it is the latest episode in the soap in which Suha opposes Arafat's successors," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Reuters news agency.

Suha notes that only a Palestinian in Arafat's inner circle could have gotten to him at the time he fell ill, when his presidential compound was under siege for months by Israeli forces.

"It has to be administered by somebody who is near who can put it in his tea, a kind of injection or a powder," she said. "You have to be near him to know that he took it."

As for next steps, she hopes the Palestinian authorities will investigate further, particularly the presidential office – the Moqata – "to know the real author of this crime."