French prosecutor dismisses Arafat poisoning case


(JTA) — A French prosecutor dismissed a case accusing Israel of poisoning former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The prosecutor in Nanterre announced the decision on Tuesday, three months after three French judges recommended the case be dropped, the Times of Israel reported.

Lawyers for Arafat’s widow, Suha, who filed the case in France in 2012 alleging he had been murdered, said the judges closed the investigation too quickly.

Arafat died in a hospital near Paris in 2004 soon after falling ill in the West Bank. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on his belongings.

The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some contended that Arafat died of AIDS.

After the opening of the inquiry, Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah was opened to allow teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to collect samples.

Suha Arafat based her lawsuit on a 108-page report released to her by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, which said the theory that Arafat was poisoned is most consistent with its results. Russian experts have maintained that Arafat was not poisoned.

The French experts “maintain that the polonium 210 and lead 210 found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples are of an environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis said last month.

Many Palestinians continue to believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an obstacle to peace. Israel has denied any involvement. Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Israeli leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

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