Yasser Arafat death: Widow in doubt as French experts rule out poisoning

As the mystery over what caused Yasser Arafat`s death continues to baffle, the late Palestinian icon`s widow has raised question over the French findings that rule out any poisoning theories.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Paris: As the mystery over what caused Yasser Arafat`s death continues to baffle, the late Palestinian icon`s widow has raised question over the French findings that rule out any poisoning theories.

Less than a month after the Swiss experts suggested that the death of Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat might have been caused by Polonium-210 poisoning, the French experts have come up with a different conclusion that discards the poisoning claims that have been made since a report in 2012 said that traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat`s clothes.

Contrary to what Swiss experts had said, the French experts said that the polonium on Arafat`s clothes was "of natural environmental origin".

Speaking to a press conference in Paris Yasser Arafat`s widow Suha Arafat said that there was "something wrong" as her husband could not have died of a natural death as he was in good health.

She added both Swiss and French experts had confirmed of Polonium`s presence but differed in their origin.

"There is a doubt...Is it the poisoned body that contaminated the immediate external environment — the Swiss thesis — or the opposite, is it the external environment, the radioactive radon gas, that explains the presence of polonium-210 in the body — the French thesis?" she questioned.

"I don`t doubt them. But they are different skills. They are different types of medicines," she added.

She also proposed that the Swiss conclusion must be compared with that of French to resolve the confusion and that the investigators of both the nations must discuss the matter mutually.

One of her lawyers suggested that Swiss experts followed a better approach than that of French.

"I think the French experts followed a very, very narrow approach," said Saad Djebbar, Suha Arafat`s lawyer.

Arafat died at a French military hospital in 2004, following a sudden illness which baffled doctors.

No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow`s request.

His medical report claimed that he died of a stroke triggered by abnormal blood conditions.

Palestinians have been suspecting Israel’s hand behind the poisoning for long, and the latest report may spark the tensions again.

Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian committee investigating Arafat`s death, had earlier said that Ramallah would petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague if it found proof that the veteran leader was poisoned.

However Israel rubbished the report with its foreign ministry writing off the Swiss probe as "more soap opera than science".

Arafat’s body was exhumed from his grave in West Bank’s Ramallah after a Swiss institute discovered traces of the poisonous element polonium in his belongings.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) agreed to exhume the late president`s body at the request of some of his family members.

Teams of scientists from three countries were appointed to determine whether polonium played a role in his death in a French military hospital in 2004.

The request for exhumation was made after Switzerland`s Institute of Radiation Physics discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on some of Arafat`s belongings.

Arafat led the Palestinian Liberation Organisation`s fight against Israel from the 1960s but signed a peace agreement with the Jewish state in 1993 establishing Palestinian self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

His mysterious death came four years into a Palestinian uprising, after years of talks with Israel failed to lead to a Palestinian state.

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