French prosecutor closes case on suspected Arafat poisoning
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French prosecutor closes case on suspected Arafat poisoning

Yasser Arafat’s widow accuses judges of shelving the investigation too soon, over a decade after his death

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 2009. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90, file)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 2009. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90, file)

A French prosecutor on Tuesday said there was no need to pursue an inquiry regarding the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose widow alleges he was poisoned.

“The prosecution gave the opinion that the case should be dismissed,” the prosecutor’s office told AFP.

Arafat died in Percy military hospital near Paris at the age of 75 in November 2004 after developing stomach pains while at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

His widow Suha filed a case in 2012 at a court in Nanterre, north of Paris, saying he was murdered.

Suha Arafat. (photo credit: Sharon Perry/Flash90)
Suha Arafat. (photo credit: Sharon Perry/Flash90)

The same year, Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah was opened for a few hours allowing three teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to collect approximately 60 samples.

Three French judges concluded their investigations in April and sent their findings to the Nanterre prosecutor.

A center in the Swiss city of Lausanne had tested biological samples taken from Arafat’s belongings that were given to his widow after his death, and found “abnormal levels of polonium.”

It stopped short of saying that he had been poisoned by the extremely radioactive element.

However, French experts found that the isotopes polonium-210 and lead-210, found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples, were of “an environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis said in April.

Lawyers for Arafat’s widow accused the judges of closing the investigation too quickly and called for more experts to be questioned.

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