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  • Yasser Arafat (L) with Nayef Hawatmeh, one of the founders of the PLO and the General Secretary of the Marxist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1969.

    Yasser Arafat (L) with Nayef Hawatmeh, one of the founders of the PLO and the General Secretary of the Marxist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1969. | Photo: The Palestinian Mission

Published 3 September 2015

Three french judges said evidence was insufficient to support the poisoning claims. Lawyers and Palestinian government said ruling was “biased”.

French judges have closed Wednesday the case investigating claims that late Palestinian President and leader Yasser Arafat was murdered in 2004, citing lack of evidence.

The case was brought to the French courts by Arafat's wife Suha Arafat in 2012 when Swiss medical examiners found that levels of polonium-210 in his remains were at least 18 times higher than normal.

"At the end of the investigation ... it has not been demonstrated that Mr Yasser Arafat was murdered by polonium-210 poisoning," the three judges ruled, according to the prosecutor at Nanterre court near Paris.

Lawyers for Arafat's widow said the investigation had been "fundamentally biased" and accused the judges of closing the probe too quickly.

"The lack of investigation leads inevitably to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence," the lawyers said in a statement, calling for more experts to be questioned.

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Arafat was put under house arrest in the Palestinian city of Ramallah for more than two years before he died in 2004 at a Paris hospital after developing stomach pains. Suha and the Palestinian government accuse Israel of poisoning Arafat.

Following an Al-Jazeera investigation into the death of the Palestinian leader in 2012, Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah was opened for a few hours to allow three teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to collect around 60 samples. In the process, they dicovered that there were high levels of radioactive agent in Arafat’s remains.

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However, in April, Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis said the French experts found that the isotopes polonium-210 and lead-210 in the samples were of "an environmental nature".

The head of the Palestinian government's inquiry committee Tawfiq Tirawi refused to accept the judges' conclusions. "We'll continue our investigation to reach the killer of Arafat, until we know how Arafat was killed," Tirawi told AFP news agency Wednesday.

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