News24

Ex-Libyan minister drowned, police say

2012-04-30 15:45

Vienna - Former Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem died by drowning but there was no sign of another party being involved "so far", Vienna police said on Monday, a day after Ghanem was found dead in the Danube.

"The death was by drowning... no signs of involvement by another party have been detected so far," police spokesperson Roman Hahslinger told journalists, citing preliminary autopsy results.

More complete results were expected later in the week with a toxicology report following probably next week, he said, without giving any more details as to what might have led to the drowning.

The police were continuing their inquiries and possible witnesses were also being questioned to clarify Ghanem's death, which apparently occurred in the early hours of Sunday.

Ghanem, 69, was found by a passer-by on Sunday morning floating in the water fully clothed in a part of the Danube flanked on both sides by dozens of bars and restaurants, and just a few hundred metres  from the flat where he lived with at least one daughter, Hahslinger said.

Asked by journalists whether the death could have been a suicide or a murder, Hahslinger said Ghanem's behaviour had apparently been very normal on the evening before his death, but that he felt "slightly ill."

The police had no information of any serious illness Ghanem may have had and found no suicide notes or written threats.

Ghanem's daughter noticed her father was missing on Sunday morning at about 10:00, by which time the body had already been found.

The former minister was carrying no identification but police found on him the address of a Viennese company that allowed him to be identified.

It was unclear where Ghanem may have fallen in the Danube, Hahslinger also said. The preliminary autopsy results, however, indicate he was not in the water for very long before he was found, maybe one or two hours.

Ghanem served as Libya's oil minister from 2006 to 2011 but abandoned Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in mid-May last year as it battled the rebels who ultimately were to overthrow it with Western help.