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Arafat sister: Don't exhume late leader's body

July 12, 2012 11:55 P.M. (Updated: July 15, 2012 1:49 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A sister of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is not among those, including his widow, calling for the Palestinian Authority to exhume the body in the wake new questions about his death.

"Leave him to rest in his soil,” Khadija Arafat said Thursday, saying she has been overwhelmed with media inquiries following an Al Jazeera investigation that raised the possibility Arafat was poisoned.

"Would exhuming his body bring him back to life?" she said. "Let him be comfortable where he's lying ... To satisfy my conscious and my brother in his grave, let's not talk about exhuming his body."

Meanwhile medical files released for the first time portray Arafat as healthy a month before he died, The Associated Press reported, citing treatment notes by Arafat’s doctors who cared for him in Ramallah. The report confirmed the records originally published by Al Jazeera.

Earlier, the head of a medical committee investigating Arafat's death said the late president died from poisoning, but could not confirm the use of a radioactive element called polonium.

Abdullah Al-Basheer, a doctor in Jordan, made the comments during a news conference in Ramallah. While not being able to confirm the use of polonium, the element can still not be excluded from current investigations, he told reporters.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise in November 2004 after French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death.

French medical reports are incomplete, al-Basheer said, adding that a French hospital has refused to provide his medical commission with adequate information to aid its inquiry.

The controversy surrounding Arafat's death was reignited by an Al Jazeera expose last week in which the Swiss Radiophysics Institute said it found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 on Arafat's clothing - the same substance used to kill former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The Swiss institute said, however, that the symptoms described in the Palestinian president's medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.

The Palestinian Authority has agreed to exhume his body from Ramallah to complete investigations, but has yet to set a date to carry it out.

Allegations of foul play - and of Palestinian involvement in it - have long marked factional fighting among Palestinians.
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