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Body of Shukri Ghanem Brought Home for Burial, Investigation Continues
04/05/2012 22:51:00
Photo: The body of Shukri Ghanem is being taken out of the airplane upon arrival in Tripoli airport.

The body of Libyan former oil minister Shukri Ghanem, who was found dead in the Danube river in Vienna on Sunday 29 April, was flown home to Tripoli on Thursday.

Ghanem was a confidant of the dead brutal and abusive dictator Gaddafi and a funeral was held on Friday in Tripoli.

His casket, which was draped in white and tagged as a diplomatic pouch, was unloaded onto the tarmac of Tripoli international airport.
Preliminary medical reports issued by Austrian police suggested that Ghanem drowned with "no signs of involvement by another party."

A frequent visitor to Vienna, where he regularly attended meetings of the OPEC oil cartel, he sought refuge in the Austrian capital following his defection and was officially a resident there, according to police.

"Several parties have asked for him to be buried in Libya," said interim government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa.

Vienna's top homicide investigation team is probing the drowning of Libya's former oil chief but that does not mean they think he was murdered, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The case is being run as a murder investigation, Vienna prosecutors spokesman Thomas Vecsey said, but only because the legal code lacks other designations police could use.

"We still have no suspicion at all of foul play. We still have no suspicion of murder," he added.

The so-called Hoffmann group at Vienna's office of criminal investigations - named after its leader - is in charge of the case, Vecsey said.

In Tripoli, a coffin wrapped in a white cloth carrying Ghanem's body was taken off a Turkish Airlines plane coming from Istanbul. It had a small tag with Ghanem's name, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Ghanem's body was driven away from the airport in an ambulance and taken to the family home in the Libyan capital, his nephew said.

Ghanem, who was wanted in Libya for questioning in a graft inquiry, was a former Libyan prime minister who also ran the Libyan oil industry before defecting a year ago during the uprising that toppled Gaddafi.

That made him privy to potentially damaging information on oil deals with Western governments and oil firms.

A passerby discovered Ghanem's fully clothed body in the Danube, a few hundred metres (yards) from his home in a 22-storey apartment block.

Friends and colleagues have said they suspect enemies may have killed Ghanem, 69, who knew more than anyone about Gaddafi's suspected multi-billion-dollar fortune. Associates have also said he was worried about health problems.


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