29 Aug 2012

France opens Arafat murder inquiry

11:41 pm on 29 August 2012

French prosecutors have opened a murder inquiry into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In July this year, his family launched a case over claims that he was poisoned with polonium-210, a radioactive element.

Swiss scientists hired by a documentary crew say they found traces of polonium on some of Arafat's belongings, the BBC reports.

The medical records of Arafat, who died at a military hospital near Paris in 2004, said he had a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

However, many Palestinians continue to believe that Israel poisoned him. Israel has denied any involvement. Others allege that he had Aids.

Tuesday's decision by the court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre followed the deposition of the civil suit in late July by Arafat's widow, Suha.

The case does not name an alleged killer, but is brought against an unnamed perpetrator X.

French officials said prosecutors had agreed to begin a murder inquiry, but they have yet to appoint an investigating judge.