French experts rule out poisoning of Arafat

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Paris, December 3:  Even as doctors in Paris ruled out that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had died due to Polonium poisoning, a Palestinian investigator said he would name the persons responsible for the death.

Mr. Arafat died at a military hospital in Paris in 2004 of a mysterious illness. His symptoms were, however, those of acute leukaemia with his body unable to manufacture platelets that help coagulate the blood.

Mr. Arafat showed the same symptoms as alleged Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko who died in 2006 in a London hospital of poisoning from Polonium, a highly radioactive substance.

The TV channel Al Jazeera alleged in a documentary titled Killing Arafat that the Palestinian leader had been poisoned with Polonium, a finding confirmed by Swiss doctors in Geneva.

Mr. Arafat’s body was exhumed earlier this year and Swiss scientists said there was clear evidence of Polonium poisoning.

Now French experts in a report have disputed the Swiss claim of poisoning. “This report sets aside the hypothesis of poisoning and goes in the sense of death by natural causes,” sources close to the investigation in France told journalists here.

French experts who worked on the case examined some 60 samples taken from Mr. Arafat’s remains. Although they confirm the presence of Polonium in Mr. Arafat’s body, they say there was not enough of the substance.

Three groups of experts – the Swiss, the Russians and the French — have come to different conclusions whether the President of the Palestinian authority was in fact poisoned.

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