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Arafat's widow seeks French probe into death
Lawyer says Suha Arafat wants "justice" after Al Jazeera report suggests the Palestinian leader could have been poisoned
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2012 22:12
Arafat died in a military hospital in France in November 2004 [EPA]

Yasser Arafat's widow will launch a court case in France into the unexplained death of the Palestinian leader eight years ago after Al Jazeera investigation suggested he may have been poisoned, her lawyer says.

"Madame Arafat hopes that the authorities will be able to establish the exact circumstances of her husband's death and uncover the truth, so that justice can be done," lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sud said in a statement on Tuesday.

The exact nature of the legal complaint by Arafat's 48-year-old widow, Suha, is yet to be determined but it is expected to be presented before the end of this month, the lawyer said.

It would be presented against a person or persons unknown, the lawyer said in a statement.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise in November 2004 after French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death.

In an Al Jazeera investigation, the Swiss Radiophysics Institute said it found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 on Arafat's clothing - the same substance used to kill former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The Swiss institute said, however, that the symptoms described in the Palestinian president's medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.

Suspected murder

The Palestinian Authority agreed last week to a request from Suha Arafat - who lives in Malta and France - to exhume her husband's body from a limestone mausoleum in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for an autopsy.

Suha Arafat told Al Jazeera that she has long suspected that her former husband was murdered, without making any direct accusations, but noting that both Israel and the United States regarded him as an obstacle to peace.

Tunisia has called for a ministerial meeting of the Arab League to meet to discuss Arafat's death.

An emergency meeting will be held on the permanent representative level next week based on Tunisia's request to discuss the death of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, after new evidence has been revealed on suspicions he was murdered with a radioactive element,

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi said in a statement on Tuesday that a meeting of permanent representative meeting would be held next week to discuss Arafat’s death.

Arab League permanent representatives will prepare a report on the matter and raise proposals over necessary action to be presented in the nearest Arab ministerial meeting, al-Arabi said in the statement.

Last weekend, Abbas met French President Francois Hollande and asked him to help form an international investigative committee through the UN Security Council, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Al Jazeera.

Confined by Israel to his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah for three years after a Palestinian uprising erupted, an ailing Arafat collapsed in October 2004.

Looking weak and thin - and telling aides "God willing, I will be back" - he was airlifted to a military hospital in France, where he slipped into a coma and died on November 11, 2004.

Rumours circulated that he had died from anything from stomach cancer to poisoning to AIDS. French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to give details of the nature of his illness.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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