French prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat following recent claims he was poisoned with radioactive polonium. The Palestinian leader died in a French military hospital in 2004.
France has opened an official murder inquiry into the death of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, judicial sources told AFP on Tuesday.
Arafat died at the age of 75 on November 11, 2004, in a French hospital where he was being treated for an unnamed illness. Doctors have never been able to give a concrete explanation for his death but
The murder probe comes a month after Arafat’s family including his widow Suha launched legal action in France to investigate claims his death was caused by poisoning.
Palestinian officials have long been suspicious of Israeli involvement in Arafat’s death, despite a 2005 Palestinian investigation ruling out the possibility that he was poisoned or that he died of cancer or AIDS.
The allegations of poisoning were resurrected last month after tests in a Swiss laboratory revealed unusually high levels of polonium in Arafat’s belongings.
Polonium is a highly toxic substance and was used in the high-profile killing in 2006 of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
Suha Arafat has agreed for her husband’s remains to be exhumed from his mausoleum in the West Bank town of Ramallah so they can be subjected to further tests for traces of polonium.
In the coming weeks one or several judges will be named to lead the French investigation, which was opened in the town of Nanterre, just outside Paris.
Israel has repeatedly denied any allegations it was involved in the death of the former Nobel Peace Prize winner.