Arafat widow queries nephew's right to medical file

22nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 21 (AFP) - The widow of Yasser Arafat has questioned the right of his nephew to receive a copy of the medical file of the late Palestinian leader, Suha Arafat's lawyers said in a statement Sunday amid controversy over the cause of his death.

PARIS, Nov 21 (AFP) - The widow of Yasser Arafat has questioned the right of his nephew to receive a copy of the medical file of the late Palestinian leader, Suha Arafat's lawyers said in a statement Sunday amid controversy over the cause of his death.

Without naming Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Qidwa, who arrived in Paris earlier Sunday from Cairo to pick up his uncle's medical records, lawyers Philippe Plantade and Jean-Marie Burguburu said there were no other eligible people to receive the files than Arafat's wife.

Questioned by AFP, Plantade would not be drawn on whether there could be a legal complaint to stop the handover of the records to Qidwa.

He would also not say whether Arafat's widow would make the records public after receiving a copy on Friday.

"Mrs Arafat fully understands existing diplomatic and historic reasons but these cannot justify raison d'etat prevailing over the rule of law," the lawyers said in the statement.

It was "shocking that the law would be spoken by the spokesman for the (French) defence ministry", Jean-Francois Bureau.

Bureau had said early Saturday that Qidwa had the right to access to the information if he requested it.

"It is up to the French and Palestinian authorities to contact (Mrs Arafat) on this issue, which they have not done so far, so that a dignified solution can be worked out calmly which respects the law and history," the lawyers added.

Should the records be handed over to a third party without Suha Arafat's consent, hospital authorities would have to bear the consequences, they warned.

"Under the law there is no eligible party other than Mrs Arafat as the surviving wife of President Arafat and the legal representative of her only child Zahwa."

Therefore Suha Arafat was the only person entitled to receive information and a copy of the Palestinian leader's medical files regardless of the "baseless statements of the defence ministry spokesman".

Qidwa was accompanied by the Palestinian Authority's representative in France, Leila Shahid, when he arrived in Paris.

He earlier told AFP by telephone that he was not planning to immediately go to the military hospital outside Paris where Arafat died on November 11.

Arafat, 75, was admitted to the Percy hospital on October 29, but the cause of his death has never been revealed - prompting a flurry of rumours including that he was poisoned by Israeli agents.

Late Friday lawyers for Arafat's widow said that she had been given her husband's medical file and then left for her second home in Tunisia.

Suha, invoking French medical confidentiality laws, has kept a tight grip on information relating to her husband's treatment during his last days.

Qidwa, who is the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, has been officially designated next-of-kin by French officials alongside Suha and her nine-year-old daughter.

Arafat's doctor and French media reports have said his ailment involved a blood disorder.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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