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French experts reject theory that Arafat was poisoned

AFP

French experts have "ruled out" the idea that Yasser Arafat was killed by polonium, a source close to the investigation said Tuesday, contradicting a Swiss team's findings last month that the Palestinian leader may have been poisoned.

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French experts have dismissed allegations that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning, a source close to the investigation told AFP on Tuesday.

"The report rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the [direction] of a natural death," the source said.

The French experts' findings differ from those of Swiss scientists, who said in November that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by poisoning. The Swiss team said that an examination of Arafat’s remains found “unexpectedly high levels” of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope.

Original findings inconclusive

Arafat died at a French military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004, with doctors saying he died of a massive stroke and suffered from a blood condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation. But their findings were inconclusive about what led to the coagulation, which has numerous possible causes.

His widow, Suha Arafat, refused to allow an autopsy at the time.

France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death at his widow’s request in August 2012, a month after an Al Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.

His body was exhumed for further tests in November last year, when some 60 new samples were taken and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team of experts.

Palestinian inquiry claims foul play

Also on Tuesday, the head of an official Palestinian Authority investigation said that he would soon be naming the people responsible for Arafat’s death.

“I promise that the next press conference will be the last, and will cast into the light of day everyone who perpetrated, took part in, or conspired in the matter,” Tawfiq Tirawi told Palestine Today television.

Tirawi said last month that Israel was the "only suspect" in the death of the Palestinian leader.

Arafat’s widow has said in the past that at least one member of Arafat’s inner circle was involved in his death.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

 

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