Arafat 'not poisoned', says French minister

14th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Sunday there was no reason to suspect poisoning in the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a Paris hospital last week.

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Sunday there was no reason to suspect poisoning in the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a Paris hospital last week.

"Medically, scientifically, technologically, everything was done in medical terms and by way of treatment, and nothing leads us to suppose there was poisoning," said Douste-Blazy in an interview with a French Jewish radio station.

His comments came after the Palestinian representative in France Leila Shahid said earlier Sunday she thought it was possible that Arafat could have been poisoned.

Mystery continues to surround his illness and death. The issue has become a major point of scrutiny in France where officials have refused to divulge information, citing patient confidentiality under French law.

"It is quite possible that he was poisoned because they (the Israelis) have poisoned others," Shahid said on the private French radio station Europe One. "I cannot tell you that, medically, we have any proof."

Nasser al-Qidwa, Arafat's nephew and Palestinian representative to the United Nations, also demanded explanations in newspaper interviews this weekend.

"We can't forget that there was no diagnosis and this case must remain open," Al-Qidwa said in comments published Sunday by the Lisban newspaper Publico.

"It is the right of the Palestinian people to, in the future, try to obtain final and clear conclusions regarding this matter."

Arafat died in Paris last Thursday aged 75. He had been flown on October29 to France for treatment after tests showed he had a low count of blood platelets.

Neither the French hospital where he was treated nor Palestinian officials have announced a cause of death.

Douste-Blazy told Radio J station here only Arafat's family had had full access to all medical records.

The medical team at the French military hospital where Arafat was treated for a blood disorder had shown the family the records, both while treatment was in progress and in summary, the minister said.

"I was not personally acquainted with the files either as a doctor or as health minister," he admitted.

But he continued: "I can tell you it appears nothing in the medical files indicated that there might have been such a case (of poisoning,) otherwise the legal authorities would have had to take the files in hand."

"I draw this conclusion while noting that permission was given to bury the remains as a consequence of my certified statement," he added.

"France received Arafat and...everything was done by military medical staff scientifically, medically and technically to care for him," the French minister said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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