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France opens murder inquiry into Yasser Arafat's death

French prosecutors yesterday opened a murder investigation into the
death of the veteran Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who died in a
military hospital near Paris in 2004.


The investigation follows a formal complaint by Mr Arafat's widow
after the discovery last month by a laboratory in Switzerland of
substantial traces of the deadly poison polonium-210 on the Palestinian
leader's clothes.Mr Arafat was said to have died of cirrhosis of
the liver but his medical files have never been released by France.
Conspiracy theories suggesting that he was murdered by Israeli
intelligence or other enemies have swirled around the Middle East for
the last eight years.Samples of the clothes that he wore just
before he was taken ill were sent to a laboratory in Lausanne earlier
this year by the TV station Al Jazeera, with the co-operation of his
widow and daughter. In early July, the laboratory, announced that it had
detected significant traces of polonium-210, the substance used to
poison the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.As
a result, Mr Arafat's widow, Souha, made a formal complaint in France
earlier this month. The state prosecution service in Nanterre, west of
Paris, decided that there were sufficient grounds to open a criminal
investigation for murder. One or more investigative magistrates will now
be appointed to pursue the inquiry.The Palestinian authority
gave permission earlier this month for Mr Arafat's body to be exhumed.
Tests on his remains will be carried out by the same laboratory, the
Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne.Mr Arafat, 75, was taken
abruptly ill, with piercing pains in his lower body, in Ramallah in
Palestine in November 2004. He lapsed into a coma and died several days
later in the French military hospital at Percy near Paris after the then
French President Jacques Chirac had offered France's medical help.Souha
Arafat and her daughter, Zahwa, have called for the findings of the
Swiss laboratory to be made available to French investigators as part of
a "properly constituted judicial investigation". Souha Arafat has also
called on French authorities to release Mr Arafat's medical files.There
have long been Palestinian suspicions that the Israeli intelligence
agency Mossad assassinated Mr Arafat. The Institut de Radiophysique in
Lausanne found that a urine stain in the Palestinian leader's underwear
registered 180 millibecquerels of polonium-210 – over 20 times the dose
needed to kill.Some of Mr Arfat's symptoms, such as vomiting and
cirrhosis, are the same as those from poisoning by polonium-210. At the
time of Mr Litvinenko's assassination in 2006, British investigators
said that only a sophisticated operation by a state intelligence agency
could obtain and use polonium-210 in a lethal form.Under French
law, it will be up to an investigating magistrate to decide whether firm
evidence exists that Mr Arafat was murdered. If they find such
evidence, they will recommend that the state prosecution service brings
charges.As leader of the militant Fatah movement, and then the
Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Mr Arafat was the most visible face
of Palestinian resistance for decades. He represented Palestine at the
Oslo peace talks in 1993 and received a share of the Nobel Prize in
1994.


Added: Aug-30-2012 Occurred On: Aug-30-2012
By: ElegantDecline
In:
Other Middle East
Tags: Arafat, Poison, Murder, Theory
Location: France (load item map)
Views: 1316 | Comments: 42 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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