France opens Yasser Arafat murder case

French prosecutors have opened a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death near Paris following claims he may have died of polonium poisoning, sources said.

The probe comes after Arafat’s family launched legal action in France last month following reports the veteran Palestinian leader may have died from radioactive polonium.

Arafat’s widow Suha and his daughter Zawra lodged a murder complaint on July 31 in the
Paris suburb of Nanterre. Arafat died at age 75 at a military hospital near Paris in 2004. “A judicial murder enquiry has been opened, as expected following the complaint from Mrs. Arafat,” a source close to the matter said. Another source confirmed the probe had been opened.

The Palestinian Authority hailed the move.

“We welcome this decision and (Palestinian) president Mahmud Abbas has officially asked French President Francois Hollande to help us to investigate the circumstances of the martyrdom of late president Arafat,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said in Ramallah.

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