Report: Russian experts find Arafat died of natural causes
Former Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat surrounded by doctors from Tunis, Egypt and Jordan Photo: REUTERS/HO/Palestinian Authority/Hussein Hussein
MOSCOW - Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of natural causes, not radiation poisoning, the head of a Russian state forensics agency that tested samples taken from his body said on Thursday, according to the Interfax news agency.
The Russian finding was in line with an assessment by French scientists who said earlier this month that Arafat, who died in 2004, had not been killed with radioactive polonium.
"Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes," Vladimir Uiba, head of the Federal Medico-Biological Agency (FMBA), was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel but then led an uprising in 2000, died at 75 in a French hospital four weeks after falling ill following a meal in his Ramallah compound surrounded by Israeli tanks.
The official cause of death was a massive stroke, but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness. No autopsy was carried out.
Swiss forensic experts said last month that their tests of samples taken from Arafat's body were consistent with polonium poisoning, while not absolute proof of the cause of death.
Samples were taken from Arafat's body in November 2012 by Swiss, French and Russian experts after an al Jazeera documentary said his clothes showed high amounts of polonium.
Many Palestinians have long believed Israel killed him - a charge Israel flatly denies - but an official Palestinian Authority investigation headed by Tawfiq Tirawi has yet to produce any evidence.
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