Libya's Ex-Oil Minister Was Found Dead In The Danube

Shokri Ghanem Libya

The discovery of the corpse of Shukri Ghanem on Sunday in the Danube in Austria has left many shocked.

Al Jazeera reports that Ghanem, formerly the Prime Minister and later Oil Minister in Muammar Qaddafi’s Libyan government, reportedly had no signs of external struggle on his body. Police told the BBC that they would suspect there would be signs of a struggle if Ghanem had been pushed while on an early morning walk, and added it is also possible he fell ill, possibly from a heart attack.

While police haven’t performed an autopsy yet*, the death of the 69-year-old has led to some to reexamine Ghanem’s controversial politics.

Ghanem is perhaps best known in the West for one crucial betrayal. In 2011, at the height of the Libyan crisis, Ghanem defected from the Qaddafi government, becoming one of the highest ranking officials to defect. He also, however, refused to work with the National Transitional Council, the post-Qaddafi authority in the country, apparently preferring a quiet life in Vienna.’s Brian Whitaker has a fascinating post that looks deeper at Ghanem’s perhaps crucial links to a series of oil scandals in the Libya:

Though Libya under Gaddafi was officially a “people’s” state, its oil industry provided a wealth of opportunities for individuals and companies to cream off money that rightfully belonged to the people. For five years Ghanem was in charge of that industry, and whether or not he personally benefited from the corruption, he probably had more knowledge than anyone else of what was going on – so much so that on one occasion he expressed fears for the safety of himself and his family.

*UPDATE 9:02am ET: The BBC has autopsy reports that suggest Ghanem drowned, with no indications of foul play or suicide.

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