News and Information

Paris set to release Arafat file
November 18, 2004
France says it is ready to release the medical records of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to his nephew.

French officials have so far denied the files to Palestinian leaders saying only family are entitled to the see them under French privacy laws.

Paris now says Arafat's nephew, Palestinian observer at the UN Nasser al-Kidwa, is considered next of kin.

The cause of Arafat's death last week at a hospital outside Paris has not yet been disclosed.

This has in part fuelled speculation that he may have been poisoned.

French officials have denied the rumour - saying privacy laws prevent them from making the cause of death public.

Mr Kidwa will soon travel to France to make a formal request for the records, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said on Thursday.

His request to see the files on Arafat is based purely on "his capacity as a relative", Mr Shaath added.

Awkward situation

French Defence Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau told AFP news agency: "We are expecting to receive this request, and we will respond to it positively."

Correspondent say the release of the files to Mr Kidwa would resolve an awkward diplomatic situation.

It will be up to Arafat's relatives whether they want to make his medical records public.

The Paris daily Le Monde has said doctors believe Arafat died of a blood clotting disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Arafat died on 11 November of multiple organ failure.

He was flown from Ramallah to Paris' Percy military hospital on 29 October and fell into a coma a few days later.


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