Former Libyan oil minister found dead in Vienna [updated]

Shukri GhanemBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former Prime Minister of Libya, who defected from the government of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi last summer during the peak of the Libyan civil war, has been found dead in Vienna, Austria. Shukri Ghanem, a former member of the General People’s Committee of Libya, had for years been a close friend and trusted aide of Colonel Gaddafi. Having previously served as a Director of Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation, he was appointed Prime Minister of the country in 2003. In 2006, he assumed the post of undersecretary at the Ministry of Petroleum —arguably Libya’s most powerful government ministry— from which he resigned in 2009. In May of 2011, he made international headlines when he abruptly appeared in Tunisia, saying he had defected from Libya. Soon afterwards, on June 1, he reappeared in Rome, Italy, where he held a press conference and announced that he was joining the Libyan rebel Transitional National Council. His public defection delivered a heavy blow to the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, which was eventually brought down a few months later. Ghanem was one of Libya’s most internationally recognizable government officials. He held advanced degrees in international law and economics from American universities and had lived and worked in Vienna, Austria, for years, as Director of Research for the international secretariat of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries. Following his defection, he ended up back in Vienna, where he owned an apartment from his days working for OPEC. He was employed as a consultant for energy companies. But on Sunday, the high-profile Libyan defector was found dead in the Austrian capital. Vienna police spokesman Roman Hahslinger told Austrian media that Ghanem’s body was found “floating in the river Danube” in the early morning hours of Sunday. The body was reportedly discovered close to Ghanem’s apartment, located strategically within walking distance of the United Nations offices in the Austrian capital. According to the police report, Ghanem was found “dressed normally”, but carried no identification on him, with the exception of “a document bearing the name of the company that employed him”. Police said it was “not immediately clear” when or how he died, adding that an autopsy would be taking place soon. UPDATE: The BBC reports that, according to preliminary postmortem results on Monday, Ghanem appears to have died of drowning, while “there were no signs of violence” on his body.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

3 Responses to Former Libyan oil minister found dead in Vienna [updated]

  1. Kidd says:

    such a cultured city with a very dark past — this only lends to the legend and tells us the score has not been settled in regards to libya

  2. The Prof says:

    Is it an accident? Renegade Libyan Intelligence settling scores?

  3. Kidd says:

    i don’t believe the troubles in libya are over by far. retribution killings will be ongoing . a successful dictator has people in place in other countries and with the ability to move around in europe, there would be a number of people already on place by gaddafi. just having read the latest burnie gunther novel by p. kerr, there is any number of people or groups to suspect . one being someone on his staff who was planted along time ago. even the butler . more details are needed and vienna police won’t be so quick to offer information. but this is a warnimg to all who crossed quaddafi , even sarkozy , who if he loses the french election, might be a target in future. it was of naive of ghamen to think he was safe. someone close or some well payed killer from way off the radar.

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