Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Yasser Arafat's death still a mystery


The late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat's medical records do not give conclusive results regarding what caused his death, the New York Times and Haaretz newspapers reported yesterday, prompting Palestinian officials to call for the publication of the records.

The reports were the first based on the actual medical records since Arafat died in a Paris hospital on Nov. 11 after falling ill in his West Bank compound a month earlier. Arafat's widow and other relatives have kept the records secret.

A stroke was the final blow that killed Arafat, but it is not clear what disease or illness lead to a deterioration in his health, the Times concluded in its report. The records show, according to independent experts who studied them, that Arafat's symptoms make it highly unlikely that he died of AIDS or poisoning, the newspaper said.

But Palestinian doctors continue to insist that he was poisoned, the Times reported.

While the Israeli Haaretz daily cited experts as saying that Arafat died of AIDS, poisoning or an illness, it points out that the medical report states that "a discussion among a large number of medical experts ... shows that it is impossible to pinpoint a cause that will explain the combination of symptoms that led to the death of the patient."

Arafat's personal doctor, Ashraf al-Kurdi, who did not treat Arafat in his final weeks, said that he knows French doctors found the AIDS virus in Arafat's blood, Haaretz reported. The virus given to Arafat by Israel was used to disguise poisoning, he said, according to the daily.

A senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, said he had not seen the records but had been told by many doctors that it was still not clear what had caused Arafat's death. Erekat said he had not heard any proof that Arafat had AIDS or had been poisoned.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office called the accusations that Israel infected Arafat with AIDS or poisoned him "nonsense," Haaretz said.

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