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Arafat did not die of poisoning – French tests show

Paris, Dec 4 (): French forensic tests have concluded that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat did not die of poisoning, as had been suggested by an earlier report, leaks from the forensic reports say.

Last month, Swiss forensic scientists had concluded that samples taken from Arafat’s exhumed body were consistent with polonium-210 exposure but a source who saw the conclusions of the French forensic report said on Tuesday that the reports did not definitely prove that he was poisoned.

Arafat died at age 75 at a Paris military hospital in November 2004 after he had a brain haemorrhage and slipped into a coma. Palestinian officials said in the days before his death that Arafat had a blood disorder — though they ruled out leukemia — and that he had digestive problems.

Many Palestinians have long said Israel killed him – a charge Israel totally denies – but an official Palestinian Authority investigation headed by Tawfiq Tirawi has yet to produce any evidence.

Suha Arafat, Arafat’s wife filed a legal complaint in France seeking an investigation into whether he was murdered.

Mrs Arafat asked the Palestinian Authority to allow the exhumation of Arafat’s remains in order “to reveal the truth”.

Teams of scientists from three countries were selected to determine whether polonium played a role in his death. The Palestinian Authority allowed French investigators and a team of Swiss scientists’ permission for the exhumation and to take samples for testing. Russia also sent experts, and samples were sent to its Federal Medico-Biological Agency.

When investigating, French investigators ordered medical, anatomical, radiation, genetic and toxicology tests on exhumed Arafat’s remains. A 2012 report said traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat’s clothing.

The French experts found traces of polonium but came to different conclusions than the Swiss. The French finding “dismisses the hypothesis of poisoning by polonium-210,” Suha said.

The Swiss scientists said they found high traces of polonium-210 and lead, and that the timeframe of Arafat’s illness and death was consistent with poisoning from ingesting polonium.