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Libya’s Ex-Oil Minister Died Naturally, Vienna Prosecutor Says

Libya’s former top oil official, Shokri Ghanem, whose body was found in the Danube River in April, probably died from a heart attack, according to final autopsy results, the Vienna prosecutors’ office said today.

While Ghanem probably wasn’t dead when he fell into the river, he still died from heart failure and not from drowning, Thomas Vecsey, the prosecutors’ spokesman, said by telephone. The autopsy produced no signs for unnatural causes of death, he added. No harmful substances other than “normal levels” of nicotine and caffeine were found in Ghanem’s blood.

Austrian police are still investigating the circumstances of Ghanem’s death on April 29, Vecsey added. That’s why the file isn’t closed yet for the Austrian authorities, he said.

Ghanem, 69, was previously chairman of Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp., a role equivalent to oil minister in other OPEC nations. An uprising against former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi broke out in February 2011, and Ghanem left the government about four months later, the rebel National Transitional Council said last June in a statement. He didn’t join the post-Qaddafi administration, and the rebel council picked Nuri Berruien to head the NOC in September.

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa and has been a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries since 1962.

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