Arafat's widow rejects corruption charges - media

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Suha Arafat, the widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, rejected accusations of corruption shortly after a court in Tunisia issued a warrant for her arrest on Monday, Arab media reported.

Suha Arafat, the widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, rejected accusations of corruption shortly after a court in Tunisia issued a warrant for her arrest on Monday, Arab media reported.

The corruption charges against 48-year-old Arafat go back to a 2006 joint project between Arafat and Tunisia's then first lady, Leila Ben Ali, to create an international school in Tunisia. Arafat reportedly borrowed about $200,000 from a Tunisian bank in 2006.

According to the Egyptian Gazette, Arafat and Ben Ali later fell out with each other, reportedly over Arafat's criticism of an alleged move to close down a rival private school.

Arafat said she has handed over all her financial responsibilities in the project, including the loan repayment, and she has official documents to prove it.

"I officially handed over my post in this school to a close friend of Leila Ben Ali - the wife of Tunisia's former president," she said.

Arafat's widow says that she was persecuted by the former Tunisian regime. She said she would sue Tunisia in the European Court of Human Rights demanding to protect her "from attacks by Tunisian authorities" if the charges against her are not lifted.

Suha, who was widely criticized by ordinary Palestinians for her lavish lifestyle, moved to Tunisia after her husband's death in 2004, where she lived in a luxury palace in the coastal Carthage district. In 2007 she moved to Malta after she was stripped of Tunisian citizenship without explanations and declared persona non grata.

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