Forensic Opinion Divided

Palestinians to Continue Probe of Arafat's Death, Despite Tests Ruling Out Poison

Former Palestinian leader's official cause of death was massive stroke, but doctors were unable to determine origin of his illness; Russia and France say he died of natural death, Swiss experts found polonium poisoning in his body.

The Palestinians will continue to investigate the death of late leader Yasser Arafat, even after experts from Russia and France ruled that he died of natural causes and was not poisoned to death.

"I can only say that there is already a decision to continue (the investigation)," he Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Faed Mustafa, told Mustafa told state-owned RIA Novosti on Thursday. "We respect their position, we highly value their work but there is a decision to continue work."

Th Palestinian decision comes hours after the Interfax news agency revealed the findings of a Russian state forensics agency that tested samples taken from Arafat's body.

The Russian finding was in line with an assessment by French scientists who said earlier this month that Arafat, who died in 2004, had not been killed with radioactive polonium, but countered the conclusion of Swiss experts at the third laboratory carrying out the tests.

"Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes," Vladimir Uiba, head of the Federal Medico-Biological Agency (FMBA), was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel but then led an uprising in 2000, died at 75 in a French hospital four weeks after falling ill following a meal in his Ramallah compound surrounded by Israeli tanks.

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.

Swiss forensic experts said last month that their tests of samples taken from Arafat's body were consistent with polonium poisoning, while not absolute proof of the cause of death.

Samples were taken from Arafat's body in November 2012 by Swiss, French and Russian experts after an al Jazeera documentary said his clothes showed high amounts of polonium.