Palestinian officials on Tuesday lauded the decision by a French court to launch a murder investigation into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
“We welcome this decision,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP. He added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “has officially asked French President François Hollande to help us to investigate the circumstances” of Arafat’s death.
“We hope the French investigation will satisfy our desire for truth, and that there will be a serious investigation to reveal the whole truth,” Erekat said.
Palestinian Minister of Justice Ali Muhanna told German news agency DPA that this is a “correct step in the right direction,” albeit one that he said was overdue.
An investigation published by al-Jazeera in July showed that traces of the lethal radioactive element polonium were found on Arafat’s clothes.
A week later, the late leader’s widow, Suha Arafat, formally requested a French investigation into the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death in a French military hospital. Suha Arafat and Palestinian officials also granted approval to exhume his body from its Ramallah tomb.
The prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre decided to accept the complaint, also brought on behalf of Arafat’s daughter, and open an investigation.
Muhanna expressed satisfaction that the investigation will take place in France, as it was there that Arafat died and “they know more than anyone else the circumstances and causes for his death.”
Philip Podolsky contributed to this report.
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