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Nephew: Arafat records don't show poisoning

/ Source: The Associated Press

Yasser Arafat’s medical records give no clear cause of death but show that toxicology tests appeared to rule out poisoning, his nephew said Monday.

At a news conference in Paris, Nasser al-Kidwa pinned some of the blame for the death of the longtime Palestinian leader on his long confinement in his West Bank compound.

“I believe the Israeli authorities are largely responsible for what happened,” he said, shortly after he took possession of the medical files from French authorities.

Al-Kidwa said toxicology tests were conducted but “no poisons known to doctors were found.”

He also said that the files gave no clear diagnosis for Arafat’s death on Nov. 11 in a Paris military hospital.

France had turned over Arafat’s medical records, despite objections from his widow, Suha Arafat.

Already in possession of the records, Mrs. Arafat has threatened a legal fight to prevent other family members from obtaining them.

Mrs. Arafat’s lawyers issued a statement late Sunday, saying that the military hospital where her husband was treated outside Paris “would alone face the consequences” if his medical records were released to any other family members.

“Madame Arafat fully understands the diplomatic and historic reasons that exist, but that does not mean the state should be able to ignore the law,” said the lawyers’ statement.

Suha Arafat's attorney Philippe Plantade declined to comment on whether legal action was planned.

“I will not reply to any question or interpretation of the communique,” he told The Associated Press.

The Palestinian Authority has promised to make public the cause of Arafat’s death in a Paris-area military hospital.

Close relative
French law does not specify how closely related a family member must be to have access to medical information.

Officials in France say medical privacy laws prevent them from making Arafat’s medical records public — but they can give them to family members, who then can reveal the information if they wish.

The lack of information about the cause of Arafat’s death has proved fertile ground for widespread rumors in the Arab world that he was poisoned, despite official denials.

Arafat’s half brother, Mohsen Arafat, said Saturday the Palestinian people were entitled to know what killed their leader.

“Politically, it is the right of the Palestinian people. We are ready to hand over the records to the Palestinian Authority,” he told Al-Arabiya television from Abu Dhabi.