france and suha arafat are f****d in the head

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    Arafat's widow retrieves medical dossier from French hospital

    By The Associated Press

    Yasser Arafat's widow took possession of his widely sought medical records on Friday, and was deciding whether to release the information publicly, her lawyer said.

    Suha Arafat obtained the file from the Percy military hospital in suburban Paris in mid-afternoon, attorney Jean-Marie Burguburu told The Associated Press by telephone.

    Burguburu declined to give any details about the content of the file, but said the Palestinian leader's widow was considering whether to release the information to the public.

    "The decision is in the process of being examined," he said. "The problem is, on the one hand, to try to stop all these false ideas about the death of President Arafat - these rumors."

    "Secondly, it's to make sure that there is not any abnormal exploitation of this medical file," Burguburu said.

    Earlier, Palestinian leaders dispatched an emissary to Paris to pick up the records and promised to make public the cause of Arafat's death.

    It wasn't immediately clear how the latest development would affect the mission of the emissary - Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat's nephew and also the Palestinian representative to the United Nations. He had confirmed to the AP late Thursday that he would be traveling to France.

    French officials insist the law prevents them from making Arafat's medical records public - but they can give them to family members, who can then reveal information if they wish.

    Authorities said Thursday they would release Arafat's records to al-Kidwa, who could resolve the lingering questions about the cause of the Palestinian leader's death at age 75 on Nov. 11.

    Arafat, suffering from a mystery illness, was flown to Paris on Oct. 19 for medical treatment at Percy Military Training Hospital, in the southwestern Paris suburb of Clamart.

    Burguburu appeared to be bracing for a legal showdown, insisting that under French law, only Arafat's wife has the right to obtain the medical report because their 9-year-old daughter, Zahwa, is a minor.

    "If the hospital made a copy - I don't know if they did, they didn't tell me - but in principle, it does not have the right to," he said. "If it did, that would be against the law."

    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told the AP there was no doubt that Arafat's medical records would come to light.

    "When we get this report, we will study it and hear the opinions of the doctors," Qureia said by telephone, "and then we will inform the Palestinian people with all the details about the health situation of President Arafat and what led to his death."

    French Foreign and Defense Ministry officials said Friday they had no information about al-Kidwa's trip.

    But Palestinian Cabinet secretary Hassan Abu Libdeh said Thursday that al-Kidwa was coming here to obtain Arafat's records.

    "We will get the report, and the Palestinian Authority will take the necessary decisions including informing the Palestinian people about the full details of the report," Libdeh said.

    French officials have refused to make public the cause of death, opening the way for widespread rumors in the Arab world that Arafat was poisoned, despite official denials.

    French law does not specify how closely related a family member must be to have access to medical information and it is unclear whether al-Kidwa knew all along what was wrong with his uncle. French officials said Thursday they have determined that al-Kidwa qualifies as a close enough relative to have access to the files.

    The lack of information has provided fertile ground for rumors in the Arab world that Arafat was poisoned, despite official denials. It also left the quality of care that Arafat received in France open to question and charges that perhaps not everything was done to save him.

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