French counter Swiss report on Arafat death:
Paris: French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning and believe he may have died of natural causes, a source close to the probe into the former Palestinian leader’s death says.
The French experts’ findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning.
“The report rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death,” the source said.
The circumstances of Arafat’s death, aged 75, at a military hospital near Paris in November 2004, after a sudden deterioration in his health, have been the subject of rumour and speculation.
French doctors were unable to say what killed him and an autopsy was not performed, at the request of his widow.
Suha Arafat told reporters she was “shattered” by the findings.
“I am so shattered by these contradictions,” she said.
“What are we supposed to think?
“The experts must give us a homogeneous conclusion.”
However, she added that she did not blame anyone for her husband’s death.
Many Palestinians believe Arafat was poisoned by Israel, a claim repeatedly denied by the Jewish state.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP the results of the French probe were “no surprise”.
Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of a Palestinian team that investigated Arafat’s death, expressed reservations about the French findings, but said members of the team needed to study the report before taking a position.
France opened a formal murder inquiry in August 2012, a month after an Al Jazeera documentary linked Arafat’s death to polonium poisoning.
Some 60 samples were taken from Arafat’s remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators, and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow’s request.
The prosecutors’ office in Paris, which is conducting the French probe, refused to comment on the investigation’s findings on Tuesday.
The Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual cause of death, although they provided “moderate” backing for the idea Arafat was poisoned by the rare and highly radioactive element.
They said the quantity of the deadly substance found on his remains pointed to the involvement of a third party.
Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) has yet to release its findings.
The Swiss team’s findings sparked fresh accusations from Palestinians and increased tensions with Israel at a delicate time.
US-brokered peace talks resumed at the end of July after a three-year break, but have already hit a deadlock over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank on land the Palestinians want for their future state.