French tests show Arafat did not die of poisoning

PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - French forensic tests have concluded that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat did not die of poisoning, as had been suggested by an earlier report, a source who saw the conclusions of the report said on Tuesday.

"The results of the analyses allow us to conclude that the death was not the result of poisoning," the source told Reuters, quoting from conclusions of a report by French forensic experts handed over to Arafat's widow Suha.

Swiss forensic experts said last month results from their tests of samples taken from Arafat's body were consistent with polonium poisoning but were not absolute proof that he died that way.

Arafat died in a French hospital in November 2004, four weeks after falling ill after a meal with vomiting and stomach pains.

The official cause of death was a massive stroke but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness. No autopsy was carried out.

A Palestinian team that investigated Arafat’s death and the late leader’s nephew on Tuesday expressed reservations over a French report saying he died of natural causes.

“We need to study the report. We can’t take a position on it until we’ve looked at it,” said Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Authority’s inquiry into the death. Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Qidwa said that “until now, I haven’t seen the report. But on principle, any new information about Arafat’s death, especially from France, needs to corroborate the first medical report on his death in 2004.”