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French judges plan West Bank trip in Arafat probe

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Photo: WEF
09:51 CEST+02:00
French judges investigating suspicions that Yasser Arafat was poisoned are seeking to travel to the West Bank where the former Palestinian leader is buried, his widow said in a statement Wednesday.

Their aim is to exhume the body and take samples for laboratory testing, she said in the statement released by her lawyer.

With no date fixed for such a trip to Ramallah, Suha Arafat called on the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority to suspend their "initiatives" linked to probes into her husband's death at a military hospital near Paris in 2004.

Last month, French prosecutors opened a murder enquiry into Arafat's death aged 75, following claims he may have died of radioactive polonium poisoning and the launching of legal action in France by Arafat's family.

Allegations that the Nobel peace laureate was poisoned were resurrected after Al-Jazeera news channel broadcast an investigation in which Swiss experts said they found high levels of polonium on his personal effects.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.

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Arafat's widow said she was happy that three French magistrates had been tasked with conducting an inquiry and said she would do whatever she could to help them to enter the West Bank.

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