Gaddafi-era oil boss found dead

Vienna - Libya's former top oil industry official, Shokri Ghanem, has died in exile in Austria, apparently of natural causes, police said on Sunday.

Ghanem, 69, had been chairperson of Libya's state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) before defecting last year several months after opponents of Muammar Gaddafi had risen up against the Libyan leader and begun a rebellion.

(File image) Shokri Ghanem. Credit: Associated Press

As NOC chairperson since 2006, Ghanem helped steer Libya's oil policy and held the high-profile job of representing Libya at Opec meetings.

As head of Libya's Opec delegation, Ghanem often visited Vienna for meetings under Gaddafi's rule.

“He was found dead in the Danube river at 8.40am (06h40 GMT). There is no suspicion at all of foul play at this stage. The corpse exhibited no signs of violence,” a Vienna police spokesperson said.

He said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.

After making a final break with the Gaddafi administration last year, Ghanem first appeared in Rome, saying he had defected because of the “unbearable violence” being used by government forces to try to put down the rebellion.

He was believed to have been living in Europe since then but was still closely associated with Gaddafi's rule by Libya's new rulers, and had ruled out going back to to his home country. - Reuters