French prosecutors to investigate Arafat death

Yasir Arafat. (Photo: Tibor Vegh)

Yasir Arafat. (Photo: Tibor Vegh)

French prosecutors have opened a murder inquiry into the 2004 death of Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat.

Suha Arafat, his widow, lodged a legal complaint for murder last month, and the French public prosecutor has now ruled that an inquiry can take place.

Mr Arafat, who died aged 75 in a military hospital in France, was said by French doctors to have died of a massive stroke.

However, an investigation by Al-Jazeera television channel, in which a Swiss institute examined a bag of Mr Arafat’s belongings, found that his items had elevated levels of lethal radioactive substance polonium-210.

The institute said that the findings were inconclusive, and that Mr Arafat’s bones needed to be tested.

The Palestinian authority has said that an exhumation of the body — he is buried in Ramallah — can go ahead, but no date has yet been set.

Last updated: 7:14pm, August 29 2012