DOHA – Arab officials meeting in Doha have approved an international probe into Yasser Arafat’s death, after a report said he may have been poisoned, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas “proposed forming an international investigative commission... on the martyrdom of (former) president Arafat” at a meeting of the Arab League’s Peace Initiative Committee in Doha on Sunday night, he said.
The committee has approved the proposal and Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi will follow up on this matter and “create a complete criminal, political and legal file.”
Earlier this month an investigation by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel found elevated levels of the radioactive substance polonium on some of Arafat’s belongings, reviving suspicions that the veteran leader may have been poisoned.
“We want the commission to be of high credibility,” said Erakat, adding that it might need a “resolution from the UN Security Council.”
The Institute for Radiation Physics in Switzerland, which analyzed biological samples taken from Arafat’s personal effects, found “an abnormal quantity” of polonium on his effects, Al-Jazeera said. Abbas and Arafat’s widow, Suha, have reportedly already given their consent for samples to be taken from his remains, which are buried in a mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Last week, Suha Arafat’s lawyer said that she will launch legal action in France over the claims.
Arafat’s nephew Nasser Al-Qidwa has accused Israel of poisoning the veteran leader and called for those responsible to be held accountable.
Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison. – AFP