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No foul play in death of Gaddafi oil boss: Austria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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VIENNA (Reuters) – Vienna prosecutors have ruled out foul play in the death of Libya’s Gaddafi-era prime minister and oil chief Shokri Ghanem, concluding he drowned after suffering a heart attack, Austrian media reported on Wednesday.

The investigation will continue to get a full picture of the circumstances of the drowning of 69-year-old Ghanem in the Danube river in late April, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told Austrian news agency APA.

The mysterious drowning shocked Ghanem’s friends and colleagues, who at the time said they suspected enemies may have hunted down and killed the man who knew more than anyone else about the Libyan dictator’s billions.

His body was found floating a few hundred meters from his home, fully clothed, near a promenade lined with bars and restaurants, where Viennese gather in the summer to sunbathe and drink beer. Police said he had been in the water a few hours, since about dawn on April 29.

There is no rail along the water’s edge in that area, and it was not the first time a dead body had been found floating there.

“It was a coronary failure, then he drowned in the Danube,” the prosecutor’s office spokesman, Thomas Vecsey, told daily newspaper Kurier. “Moreover, no substances were found in his blood that exceeded normal consumption of caffeine and alcohol.”

Algae found in the corpse showed that Ghanem gasped twice for air before drowning, the Kurier report said.

Vecsey said the prosecutor’s office wanted to find out who Ghanem had been in contact with in the days before his death and what happened in the hours before he died, APA reported.

The spokesman was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters on Wednesday.

Ghanem was one of the most powerful men in Gaddafi’s Libya, effectively controlling the purse strings of the government and the Gaddafi family, until he defected to the opposition in May last year as rebels bore down on Tripoli.

His decision to switch sides was a turning point in the uprising that eventually drove Gaddafi from power. The former Libyan leader was later caught and killed by rebels.

Ghanem moved to a comfortable exile in Vienna, where OPEC – an organization of 12 oil-producing nations – has its headquarters and where two of his daughters lived with their families. He was still closely associated with Gaddafi’s rule by Libya’s new leaders and had ruled out returning home.