Poisons in Politics
Assassins have used poisons to remove troublesome individuals since the beginning of time. Hemlock was used by the Ancient Greeks . Socrates was killed by Hemlock ingestion. Arsenic oxide was widely used,it is free of taste, odour, readily dissolves in water and killes in doses of less than 250 mg. Ideal for the job. This practice was taken up in Ancient Rome and Agrippina advanced the cause of her son Nero to becoming Emperor by the judicious use of arsenic. Pope Clement II was killed by lead poisoning in 1047 AD.
Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia and Madame Tofana of Sicily made use of arsenic for carefully planned murders.
More recently in 1978 the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed by firing a small pellet of platinum from a devise in the tip of an umbrella shot into his leg. He died within three days.
This winter, the Russian Litvinenko died over several days from polonium-210 poisoning administered during a meal. The alpha ray emissions are deadly and effective before the element is excreted.
A popular poison said to be used against Iraqi Political refugees was thallium-201, deadly and slow, taking several days to kill . Thallium sulphate has also been commonly used and is also slow. Giving the killer plenty of time to escape.
Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian Presidential candidate in 2004 was poisoned with tetrachlorodibenzodioxin ( TCDD) and this turned his facial skin into pustules. ( chloracne ) .
Ricin is another favourite but easily detected.
John Emsley FT Magazine January 6/7 2007, pp 24-25
- Martin Eastwood