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Palestine | International

Arafat's Doctor demands autopsy
by ALJ
Friday Nov 12th, 2004 5:21 PM
Deceased Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's longtime physician Ashraf al-Kurdy has called for a full autopsy, saying the Palestinian people had a right to know how their leader died.
Dr al-Kurdy, who has attended to Arafat for more than 25 years, told Aljazeera the circumstances of his illness and death remained unclear.

"Arafat's case involved the deficiency of blood platelets, which implies that some substance that causes it may be available in his blood. Thus we decided to send him to France to continue investigating his health situation, namely the cause of the broken or deficient blood platelets.

"But unfortunately, we received no news from the French hospital. This is why we call for an autopsy for Arafat's body to learn more about the cause of his illness."

Full disclosure

Arafat, who was 75, will be buried in the West Bank city of Ram Allah on Friday.

He suffered a brain haemorrhage on Tuesday. Palestinian officials said he had lain in a coma for about a week and that he had suffered liver and kidney failure.

French doctors have not said publicly what illness he was suffering from.

Dr al-Kurdy demanded full disclosure.

"The reasons for his illness must be disclosed by any means. The Palestinian people must demand an immediate and full investigation about the cause of his illness, the progress of his illness, his status in France and the cause of his death.

"All the medical investigation undertaken in France should also be disclosed," he said.

Cover-up

Asked about a possible cover-up and if he believed French doctors knew the cause of the late leader's illness and death but were withholding the information, he said:

"I do not know since we received no news from the Paris physicians who used to announce very scant news about Arafat's illness. It appeared as though someone dictated the information by telling them to disclose some information and to withhold another.

"Here I may cite examples of Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney and other heads of state about how the the media handles every detail about their illnesses by telling everything to the public ... unlike the case for Arafat.

"But the only source of medical information we had was what the Palestinian officials told us. When I asked them about the eminently conflicting news about Arafat, they told me an iron curtain was set around Arafat and that his wife Suha Arafat was the only one who knew what was going on.

Rapid deterioration

"Suha was even reluctant to see physicians from any Arab country visiting her husband with the exception of a Tunisian medical delegation which she invited to see Arafat," he said.

The doctor added that he was surprised at how the Palestinian president's health deteriorated after he was admitted to Percy military hospital outside Paris, noting that Arafat had arrived on his own two feet.

"This is what has surprised me since we had no medical report from the French physicians who could at least have told me as his private physician who is well informed of his health condition for more than 25 years.

"Even his wife could not know him better, but even [new PLO chairman Mahmud Abbas, also known as] Abu Mazin was not admitted to see Arafat."

Personal doctor excluded

Dr al-Kurdy lamented being excluded from the delegation to visit Arafat.

"Up to this moment I do not know any reason. I began to be sceptical when they invited an Egyptian medical delegation, then a Tunisian delegation as requested by Suha Arafat.

"As for myself, I received no welcome from his officials to visit him in Ram Allah. Only on 29 October I was contacted by Palestinian officials to see Arafat. When I saw him he was able to talk but complained of poor appetite and he had red spots on his face.

"We had a group of blood specialists but they could not find the cause of broken blood platelets. Then I decided to send him to France for further medical investigations.

"I was supposed to accompany Mahmud Abbas to France. But when Abu Mazin arrived in Amman, he did not contact me and headed for Paris.

"I demand a full investigation on this matter because Arafat was more a friend of mine than a patient, for more than 25 years. I knew there was something wrong but I do not know what it was."

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/94300B85-6A5F-4489-9221-846F09564A54.htm