Arafat poisoning case closed without charges filed

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A panel of French judges has closed a case accusing Israel of poisoning former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat without bringing any charges.

The judges said there was “a lack of sufficient evidence” to continue the investigation, a prosecutor from the court in Nanterre, near Paris, told the French news agency AFP, which also cited the lawyer for Arafat’s widow, Suha, in its report Wednesday.

The prosecutor’s office in July announced its intention to dismiss the case, three months after three French judges recommended the case be dropped.

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, which French experts later ruled were environmental in nature.

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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.

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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