Arafat nephew: No poison found


Monday, November 22, 2004 Posted: 9:18 AM EST (1418 GMT) PARIS, France (CNN) -- The nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was given his uncle's medical records, has said they show no cause of death.

Nasser al-Kidwa, who is also the Palestinian observer at the United Nations, said Monday the records showed "no clear diagnosis of the reason" Arafat died.

"For the French authorities, medically, the file was considered closed. For us, and because of the lack of a clear diagnosis, a question mark remains and personally I believe that it will remain there for some time to come," said al-Kidwa.

Asked whether Arafat may been poisoned -- as was rumored, despite denials from Palestinian officials -- he said toxicology tests showed "no known poison to the doctors was found."

"I'm not excluding it and I'm not asserting it either," he said, adding that he had not had time to read the 558-pages dossier.

Al-Kidwa also condemned the Israeli government for keeping Arafat confined to his headquarters in Ramallah.

"I believe Israeli authorities are largely responsible (for Arafat's death) at least because of the confinement of the late president to the Muqata in very bad conditions for three years," he said.

Arafat died in a French military hospital in Paris on November 11 aged 75.

Al-Kidwa said the Palestinian Authority would study the medical records to try to determine a cause of death. The authority has already formed an inquiry committee that includes doctors who had previously treated Arafat.

Before his death, French doctors said Arafat had a low count of platelets, which aid in blood clotting.

They also said he had a high white blood cell count, that leukemia had been ruled out and that he was in a coma.

Palestinian officials said Arafat had a brain hemorrhage shortly before he died. He had been in poor health for several years before France flew him to Paris from the West Bank town of Ramallah on October 29 for treatment.

"The issue here is the right of the Palestinian people and our duty to reach in the future a final conclusion in this regard," said al-Kidwa.

His nephew took possession of the records Monday morning, despite objections from Arafat's widow, Suha.