France opens probe into Yasser Arafat's death



France opens probe into Yasser Arafat`s death Zeenews Bureau

Paris: French prosecutors on Tuesday reportedly opened inquiry into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The development came after questions were raised by his widow and a TV investigation about whether the Palestinian leader was poisoned.

There have long been rumors in the Arab world that Arafat was poisoned.

A recent finding of Swiss lab elevated levels of a rare and highly lethal radioactive substance on Arafat's clothing has fed those claims.

Institute of Radiation Physics, however, said its findings were inconclusive and that only exhuming Arafat's remains could bring possible clarity.

Palestinian officials have waffled on the matter — initially approving the exhumation and then saying the matter needed more study — only further fueling suspicions.

Still, since Arafat's death, several senior Palestinian officials have alleged that Israel poisoned the Palestinian leader, a charge Israel vehemently denied.

Testing Arafat's bones for polonium-210 — the substance found on his clothes — could offer the last chance to get to the bottom of Palestinian claims that their leader was poisoned, though some experts say it may already be too late for conclusive answers.

Scientists caution that polonium decays quickly and that an autopsy needs to be done right away.

Arafat died in a French military hospital in 2004 of what doctors have said was a massive stroke, but the Swiss lab's tests have renewed interest in his death.