Yasser Arafat was not poisoned, French report
Yasser Arafat was not poisoned when he died in 2004, French scientists concluded.
According to French media leaks, the scientists probing the death of the Palestinian leader have reportedly concluded he died after a “generalized infection”.
A previous report by Swiss scientists said tests on Yasser Arafat’s body showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium.
This “moderately” supported the theory, long believed by many Palestinians, that he was poisoned, the report said.
Yasser Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, fell violently ill in October 2004 at his compound.
Two weeks later Yasser Arafat was flown to a French military hospital in Paris, where he died on November 11, 2004, at the age of 75.
Yasser Arafat’s official medical records say he died from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. French doctors were not able at the time to determine what had caused the disorder.
His body was exhumed for testing last year amid continuing claims he was murdered. Many Palestinians have accused Israel of being behind his death, something which Israel has always denied.
The latest reported findings were “not a surprise”, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.
In July 2012, an al-Jazeera documentary reported that scientists at the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics had found “significant” traces of a highly radioactive and toxic material on personal effects given to Yasser Arafat’s widow Suha after his death, including his trademark keffiyeh.
Suha Arafat asked the Palestinian Authority to authorize the exhumation of his remains in order “to reveal the truth”.
The Palestinian Authority granted French investigators and a team of Swiss scientists permission to exhume Arafat’s body and take samples for testing. Russia also sent experts, and samples were sent to its Federal Medico-Biological Agency.
Suha Arafat also filed a civil suit at a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, alleging that her husband was murdered by an unnamed “perpetrator X”. French prosecutors began a murder inquiry in August 2012.
Last month, a forensic expert said that the levels of polonium found in Yasser Arafat’s remains by the Swiss scientists were 18 to 36 times higher than normal.
However, they said their findings could not categorically prove the theory that he was poisoned.
The Swiss scientists had stressed that they had been unable to reach a more definitive conclusion because of the time that had lapsed since Yasser Arafat’s death, the limited samples available and the confused “chain of custody” of some of the specimens.
Also on Tuesday, a Palestinian investigator said he would soon name the people he believed were responsible for Yasser Arafat’s death.