Dismiss Probe Into Death of Arafat, French Prosecutor Says

Despite ongoing claims by widow that Palestinian leader was poisoned, legal officials find to no basis for further investigation.

Chine Labbe and Michel Rose
Yasser Arafat with his doctors in his compound in Ramallah in 2004.
Yasser Arafat with his doctors in his compound in Ramallah in 2004.Credit: AP
Chine Labbe and Michel Rose

REUTERS - A French prosecutor recommended on Tuesday the closing of an investigation into the death in France of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose widow alleged he was poisoned.

Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accord with Israel but led an uprising after subsequent talks broke down in 2000, died aged 75 in a French hospital in 2004.

The official cause of death was a massive stroke, but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness. No autopsy was carried out.

His widow, Suha Arafat, has argued the death was a political assassination by someone close to her husband. But French forensic scientists concluded in 2013 that Arafat had not been the victim of poisoning.

"We have requested that the case be dismissed," the prosecutor's office told Reuters. The prosecutor's office in Nanterre said that after its investigation into Arafat's death at Percy Military Hospital outside Paris, it considered that "it is not possible to establish sufficient charges against anyone." No one in particular had been targeted in the probe.

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the ceremony marking the signing of the Oslo peace accord on the White House lawn, September 13, 1993.Credit: AP

French magistrates must now decide on whether to follow the prosecutor's advice on the probe opened in August 2012.

Arafat died four weeks after falling ill after a meal, suffering from vomiting and stomach pains. At the demand of his widow, his remains were exhumed in 2012 and examined separately by French, Russian and Swiss experts.

The Swiss reported their results were consistent with but not proof of poisoning by reactive polonium. The French concluded he did not die of poisoning and Russian experts were reported to have found no traces of polonium in his body.

AP contributed to this report

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