Yasser Arafat ‘was not poisoned’ — leaked French report

A team of French scientists probing the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004 do not believe he was poisoned, according to leaks from their report.

They have reportedly concluded he died after a “generalised infection”.

A previous report by Swiss scientists said tests on his body showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium.

This “moderately” supported the theory, long believed by many Palestinians, that he was poisoned, the report said.

Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, told reporters in Paris she was “upset by these contradictions by the best European experts on the matter.”

Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, fell violently ill in October 2004 at his compound.

Two weeks later he was flown to a French military hospital in Paris, where he died on 11 November 2004, aged 75.

Mr Arafat’s official medical records say he died from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. French doctors were not able at the time to determine what had caused the disorder.

His body was exhumed for testing last year amid continuing claims he was murdered. Many Palestinians have accused Israel of being behind his death, something which Israel has always denied.

The latest reported findings were “not a surprise”, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Authority’s inquiry into the death, told AFP: “We need to study the report. We can’t take a position on it until we’ve looked at it.”

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