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Palestinians welcome murder probe into Arafat's death

The Palestinian Authority welcomes a French decision to investigate the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat

AFP and Reuters, Tuesday 28 Aug 2012
Views: 1130
Views: 1130

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday welcomed a decision by French prosecutors to open a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's 2004 death near Paris.

"We welcome this decision and (Palestinian) president Mahmud Abbas has officially asked French President François Hollande to help us to investigate the circumstances of the martyrdom of late president Arafat," senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat told AFP.

The French decision on the probe comes after Arafat's family launched legal action in France last month over claims the veteran Palestinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning.

Erakat expressed hope that "we will reach the full truth on Arafat's death and who stands behind it."

"We hope the French investigation will satisfy our desire for truth, and that there will be a serious investigation to reveal the whole truth, in addition to a international investigation to identify all the parties involved in Arafat's martyrdom," he said.

Arafat was a guerilla-turned-statesman who came to symbolize the Palestinian quest for statehood throughout decades of war and peace with Israel.

After being stricken with an ailment which remains unknown, the president was airlifted to France in 2004 when he fell ill during an extended siege Israel mounted on his compound during a Palestinian uprising. He died shortly thereafter.

His death aroused rumors among Palestinians of an assassination, which many blamed on Israel. An investigation into the case could rekindle Palestinian hostility toward Israel and widespread suspicions that a local collaborator may have poisoned him under directions from Israel.

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