5 Jul 2012

New call for inquiry into Yasser Arafat's death

11:59 am on 5 July 2012

Palestinian officials have renewed their calls for an international inquiry into the death of former president Yasser Arafat.

Mr Arafat, who became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, fell violently ill at his besieged West Bank compound in 2004.

He was flown to a French military hospital in Paris, where he died at the age of 75.

Mr Arafat's medical records say he had a stroke resulting from a blood disorder, the BBC reports.

Tests by a Swiss radiological institute have found significant levels of radioactive polonium on Mr Arafat's belongings which were given to his widow Suha by the Paris hospital.

Suha Arafat had requested the tests and handed the belongings, including clothing and a toothbrush, to al-jAzeera TV which sent them to the institute in Lausanne.

She had objected to a post mortem at the time of Mr Arafat's death but now wants his body exhumed to enable further tests to be carried out.

The BBC reports that many Palestinians continue to believe Mr Arafat was poisoned by Israel, which saw him as an obstacle to peace and had put him under house arrest. Israel has denied any involvement. Others allege that he had Aids.