Former Libyan oil minister found dead in Vienna

A May 27, 2009, file photo shows Libyan Oil Minister and chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) Shukri Ghanem.

Story highlights

  • Shukri Ghanem defected after having served under Moammar Gadhafi
  • His body was found floating in the Danube river
  • A cause of death has not been determined, but police do not suspect violence

Former Libyan Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem was found dead Sunday in the Danube river in Vienna, Austria, a police spokesman said.

Ghanem, who served under Moammar Gadhafi, defected as the opposition movement and NATO closed in around the then-Libyan leader.

His body, dressed in normal clothes, was found floating in the river, said Vienna police spokesman Roman Hahslinger. According to his daughter, Ghanem left the family residence early Sunday morning, the spokesman said.

He added that officials are waiting on autopsy results to determine a cause of death, but that Ghanem died in a "normal" manner. Police do not suspect violence was involved, Hahslinger said.

When he defected last year, Ghanem told CNN in Rome that he left Libya because the suffering of the people had become unbearable.

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"This war is getting even worse every day and there is no end to it, and we would like to end this thing peacefully and come back to a solution quickly to reinstate democracy and constitutional government," he said.

Ghanem joined a growing list of top Libyan officials to depart from the regime since the unrest started there in February 2011.

Gadhafi was forced from office later that year and then fatally wounded in a gunbattle that broke out after his capture on October 20. His son and one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was captured by Libya's new authorities and is awaiting trial.

Oil is big business in Libya, which produced some 1.6 million barrels of oil per day before the unrest started.

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