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Only Arafat family can get medical dossier - France
Updated: 2004-11-17 14:39

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on Tuesday France would release Yasser Arafat's medical dossier only to his family, despite a request for details by Palestinian leaders.

The Palestinian leaders said they wanted full information on the Palestinian president's death in a Paris hospital last week, challenging French laws under which his widow has maintained a veil of secrecy.

"Yasser Arafat's medical dossier will be handed over, in accordance with the law and the rules, to those who have a right to know and who ask for it, and I mean family members," Barnier told France's Europe 1 radio.

"The family of Yasser Arafat has the right do what it likes (with the dossier)," he added.

French doctors are bound by privacy laws invoked by Arafat's widow Suha which prevent them releasing details.

Aides said Arafat, 75, died on Nov. 11 after going into a coma and suffering a brain hemorrhage. But they did not say what illness caused this to happen.

Rumors have been rife that Arafat has been suffering from anything from cancer of the stomach to a rare blood disorder.

Palestinian militants have accused Israel of poisoning Arafat, a charge denied by Israeli and French officials but which threatens to fuel discontent in the West Bank and Gaza and complicate the succession process.

"I have heard my colleague Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister, say very firmly that the theory of poisoning did not stand up," Barnier said of the murder allegations.

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