Arafat's widow asks French for inquiry into his 'murder'

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The Independent Online

Yasser Arafat's widow and daughter have formally demanded a French judicial investigation into his death after filing a complaint of "assassination" in a Paris court.

Suha and Zahwa Arafat believe the former Palestinian leader was poisoned with polonium before he died in 2004 in a French military hospital. Pierre-Olivier Sur, the family's French lawyer, said the request was intended to "establish the truth in memory of their husband and father".

Earlier this month, Palestinian authorities gave final approval for Mr Arafat's body to be exhumed. In recent tests of his belongings requested by his widow and the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, a Swiss laboratory detected traces of polonium-210. The rare and highly lethal poison was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy, in London in 2006. But Swiss experts said the findings were inconclusive and that Mr Arafat's bones would have to be tested.

French doctors have said that Mr Arafat died of a massive stroke and suffered from a blood condition. A French judge will still have to decide whether to accept the complaint and open an investigation.