Monday, November 15, 2004

Conspiracy rumours abound following Arafat's death?

French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy says there is no indication Yasser Arafat was poisoned, although he had no access to medical files on the death of the Palestinian leader.

Mr Arafat was flown from the West Bank to Paris on October 29 suffering from stomach pains, diarrhoea and vomiting. He died in the early hours of November 11 after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

"Nothing in the medical dossier, it seems, has shown that he was poisoned," Douste-Blazy said.

However, he stressed he had not seen the dossier itself either in his capacity as a doctor or a minister.

He says doctors at the military hospital just outside Paris had done everything they could from a medical standpoint to treat 75-year-old Arafat.

Rumours have been rife that he had been suffering from anything from cancer of the stomach to a rare blood disorder. Hamas freedom fighters say he was poisoned by Israel, a theory which Palestinians officials say doctors have ruled out. The head of the Palestinian mission in Paris, Leila Shahid, says poisoning is a possibility, although there was no evidence.

"It's quite possible that they (Israelis) poisoned him, I cannot say that medically we have proof of that," she said.

Hopes of the riddle being solved are slim. The French chief doctor who announced Mr Arafat's death is bound by privacy laws invoked by Mr Arafat's widow, which prevent details being released. Ruling out cancer or poisoning, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath says doctors had not identified the illness but "we know what it is not".

By I Give You Blood 15 November 04


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