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Israel

Was Arafat Poisoned? Palestinian Authorities OK Exhumation Of Remains

AL JAZEERA (Qatar), XINHUA (China)

Worldcrunch

RAMALLAH - The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has given the go ahead to exhume the body of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this Wednesday after a special investigation by Al Jazeera revealed unusually high levels of deadly polonium on his personal effects. Arafat's widow Suha Arafat asked for the exhumation after the report was published on Tuesday evening.

"There is no religious or political reason preventing the inquest and the exhumation," said Nabil Abu Rdineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, according to Chinese press agency Xinhua. Abu Rdineh also said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had ordered the committee investigating Arafat's death to assess the new information.

A Swiss laboratory in Lausanne that analyzed Arafat's medical files and his personal effects for Al Jazeera found unusually high levels of a radioactive isotope called polonium, which is deadly even in small doses, hinting that he may have been poisoned to death.

"I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids," Dr. Francois Bochud, director of the institute, told Al Jazeera.

Reactions to the news on Twitter showed that Palestinians had been sceptical all along about the official storyline of Arafat's death.

The Al Jazeera documentary was published following a nine-month investigation into the causes of Arafat's death in 2004. He was transfered from the West Bank to a hospital in Paris, France after two years of Israeli siege, but his sudden sickness was unexplained and he was buried without an autopsy in Ramallah.

Polonium was infamously used to poison Russian spy-turned-dissdent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, but scientific research into its effects is scarce because recorded cases are so rare.

Al Jazeera has segmented the documentary into several parts that are gradually being released.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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