Palestinians urge France to send Arafat probe finding

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Palestinian justice minister Ali Mhanna on Friday urged France to send findings from its investigation into President Yasser Arafat’s death, after Swiss tests suggested he died from polonium poisoning.

“We’ve so far received no response from the French side,” Mhanna told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“We’ve sent a letter to the French demanding they accelerate the sending of results, and we’re still waiting.

“From the beginning the French have told us they can’t send the results until there’s Franco-Palestinian judicial cooperation,” the minister added.

The head of the Palestinian investigation, Tawfiq Tirawi, told the same news conference that “France knows the whole truth and details of the martyrdom of Yasser Arafat.”

Tirawi said the Palestinians had studied the findings of Swiss scientists, released Wednesday, which “moderately” supported the notion that Arafat had been poisoned.

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.

So far, there has been no word on the French or the Russian test results.

Tirawi said the Palestinians were sure Arafat had been poisoned, and concluded that Israel was the “only suspect” in Arafat’s death.

“We say that Israel is the prime and only suspect in the case of Yasser Arafat’s assassination, and we will continue to carry out a thorough investigation to find out and confirm all the details and all elements of the case,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Lausanne Thursday, the Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual source of his death, although they provided “moderate” backing for the idea he 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.

Arafat died at a French military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004, with doctors unable to say what killed him. At the time, an autopsy was never carried out -- at his widow’s request.

But France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death in August 2012, a month after an Al-Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.

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