Shukri Ghanem, a former prime minister and oil minister during Moammar Gadhafi's rule in Libya, has been found dead in the River Danube in the Austrian capital. Police said there were no initial signs of foul play.
The body of 69-year-old Shukri Ghanem was spotted by a passerby at a part of the River Danube flowing through Vienna on Sunday morning. Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said that the body had not been in the water very long.
"He was found dead in the Danube River at 8:40 a.m. (0640 GMT). There is no suspicion of foul play at this stage. The corpse exhibited no signs of violence," Hahslinger said, adding that an autopsy would be carried out.
"There would be no signs of violence if someone pushed him in, but it's also possible that he became ill and fell into the water," Hahslinger told reporters at an evening press conference.
Ghanem was Libyan prime minister between 2003 and 2006 under former leader Moammar Gadhafi. In 2006 he took up a role as chairman of Libya's state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC). He defected last year, first heading to Tunisia and then traveling on to Europe. Ghanem appeared in Rome on June 1, 2011, and said he would support the rebel forces who ultimately overthrew the Libyan regime with NATO air support.
"I worked in Libya for years and thought that one could push through reforms internally. That, however, was not possible, especially now that the violence has become unbearable," Ghanem said in a press statement at the time.
In his role as oil minister, Ghanem often visited Vienna to represent Libya at meetings of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose headquarters are situated in the Austrian capital.
He was considered a reformist in Libya's somewhat divided former regime, presiding as prime minister over several of the key reforms that markedly improved the Gadhafi government's ties with the US and Europe in the early stages of the so-called war on terror.
Still, Ghanem was considered a member of Gadhafi's inner circle by Libya's new rulers and he had recently said he had no short-term intention of returning home.
msh/ccp (AP, dpa, Reuters)