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Arafat's widow files suit over his death

Aug. 1, 2012 at 10:34 AM

NANTERRE, France, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The widow and daughter of Yasser Arafat started legal action in France over claims the Palestinian leader died of radioactive poisoning.

Lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur, representing widow Suha Arafat and daughter Zawra Arafat, said the women Tuesday filed a civil suit for murder "against persons unknown" with investigating magistrates in Nanterre, near Paris, Radio France Internationale reported.

Arafat, who died in November 2004 at a military hospital near Paris, was a Palestinian leader, militant, and the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He led the Palestine Liberation Organization, was president of the Palestinian National Authority and leader of the Fatah political party, which he founded in 1959.

Allegations that Arafat was poisoned surfaced in early July month after several media outlets reported on an investigation in which experts said they found high levels of polonium on Arafat's personal items, RFI said.

Polonium, a highly toxic substance, was used to kill ex-Russian spy-turned-Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 soon after drinking tea laced with the poison.

His widow has said she supports the exhumation of Arafat's remains from his mausoleum in Ramallah, West Bank.

Arafat was airlifted from Ramallah to the military hospital for treatment. When he died, Palestinian officials claimed he was poisoned by Israeli operatives, but an investigation in 2005 was inconclusive.

Israel has denied the allegations, accusing Suha Arafat and Palestinian officials of covering up the real cause of his death.

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