Rest in Peace, Yasser Arafat - Wired Science
This is me not surprised.
One month ago, the Swiss laboratory announced “moderate support” for the poisoning idea. Then the Russians declared that their tests were inconclusive. Today, the French scientists declared that they saw no signs of poisoning, that when Arafat died at age 75, he was just an ailing elderly man vulnerable to spreading infection.
In fact, this isn’t as much of a mixed message as you might think.
Before the French published their findings, the Swiss lab’s results had been called into question by a number of scientists, including the Belgium-based medical investigative reporter, Dr. Rudi Roth. You can find Roth’s inquiry here at his publication, Joods Actuel and translated here. As the translation reveals, Roth asked the head of the Swiss research group why their report lacked the standard margin of error calculations for polonium and was told that the lab had not based the numbers on “any specific evidence” but on their belief that the consistency of polonium levels in the samples was best explained by the supposition of poison. Unlike the French they also discounted the fact that the grave was contaminated with naturally occurring radon, which includes polonium in its decay chain. The inclination to see poisoning in these results also led Nicholas Priest, the former head of biomedical research at Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, to dispute the findings and suggest that the laboratory was too closely allied with Al Jazeera.