martedì 4 settembre 2012

France opens investigation into Arafat's death by Polonium-210

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French prosecutors have opened a murder inquiry into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004. They made the decision after the latter's family presented a suit last month over claims that he was poisoned with polonium-210, a radioactive element. Investigators appointed by a court in Nanterre will conduct the inquiry since the Palestinian leader died at a French military hospital in Clamart, which is within the court's jurisdiction. The case has been filed against person or persons unknown.
According to medical records, made public a year after his death by The New York Times, Arafat died of a haemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident caused by a blood disorder. He died after dominating Palestinian politics for 40 years, using every means, peaceful and lethal, to have the world listen to the Palestinian cry for rights and recognition on the international scene, failing however in his lifelong ambition, the creation of a Palestinian state.
Charges of murder, which the Arafat family believes to be true, came to the fore in July when a group of Swiss scientists with the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne found traces of Polonium-210 on Arafat's personal belongings, which were given to his widow after his death.
Last week, the Swiss received permission from Mrs Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to travel to Ramallah to analyse her late husband's remains, which are stored in a mausoleum. The Palestinian Authority had said last month that it was willing to order the exhumation of Arafat's body. President Mahmoud Abbas also requested the help of French President Francois Hollande in the investigation.
Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive and toxic element. It is present in food in low doses, and small amounts are created naturally in the body. It is not dangerous for humans if touched but it is lethal if ingested in large quantities.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Samir Qumsieh, journalist and director of a Catholic TV station, Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem, said, "This case is a mystery that is still waiting for a solution. It is certain that Arafat was poisoned. His death was not natural. Everyone is convinced of that. We are surprised that the Palestinian Authority did not open before an investigation into the matter."
For Palestinians, Qumsieh noted, "there was a plot. It is clear who benefitted from it: the Israeli government. But we believe that it [Israel] acted with the complicity of some Palestinians, perhaps someone from Arafat's inner circle."
In other words, for the journalist, "it is clear that he was killed. But who actually did it? That is the big question. I fear that no investigation will be able to find an answer.

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