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Arafat's Widow to Challenge French Inquiry Into His Death

Suha Arafat pledges to challenge a French inquiry which found her husband's death to have been from natural causes.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 12/6/2013, 10:17 PM

Arafat's widow, Suha
Arafat's widow, Suha
Flash 90

The widow of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat pledged on Friday to challenge a French inquiry which found his death to have been from natural causes, reports AFP.

"A request for further expert opinion will be submitted in the next few days to investigating judges in (the Paris suburb of) Nanterre," Suha Arafat's French lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur told the news agency.

Suha Arafat lodged a murder complaint in Nanterre in July last year, after an Al-Jazeera television documentary linked Arafat's 2004 death at a military hospital near Paris to polonium poisoning.

"After consultations with many legal experts and with the Swiss institute which examined samples from the martyr Arafat's remains, and having compared the French and Swiss reports, we have decided to turn to the French legal system to challenge the findings in the French medical report," she told AFP by phone.

"There will be a meeting between the French and Swiss experts in the coming days to discuss and compare the reports," she said.

On Thursday, the co-author of a Swiss probe into Arafat’s death said that the French report ruling out poisoning has a “glaring inconsistency”.

Professor Francois Bochud, head of the Lausanne Institute of Applied Radiophysics, was thus sticking by his team's conclusion that the former Palestinian Authority leader was likely poisoned to death.

Suha Arafat’s comments come two days after she said she was "shocked" by the French findings.

"I'm still completely convinced that the martyr Arafat did not die a natural death, and I will keep trying to get to the truth," Suha said.

"How the French haven't found anything is completely illogical," she added, pointing to the conflicting conclusions reached by Swiss experts who studied the same samples.

Arafat's remains were exhumed last year and some 60 samples were taken and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow's request.

The French team believes that the naturally occurring radioactive element radon, found in the ground, explained high polonium levels in the samples, Suha Arafat and Sur said.

Following the investigation by the Swiss team, PA officials were quick to say that the findings proved that Arafat had been “assassinated” and, as expected, blamed Israel for the “assassination.”

PA society has long given currency to the rumor that Arafat was murdered, with Israel the party most often blamed, but there has never been any proof. Israeli leaders for their part have repeatedly denied any role in his death, dismissing such suggestions as pure fiction.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)