Chad’s president’s son found suffocated
PARIS – The son of Chad’s president was found dead Monday in the basement of his apartment building in a Paris suburb, and authorities were treating the case as a murder investigation, judicial officials said.A preliminary autopsy indicated Brahim Deby, 27, died of asphyxiation from chemicals released by a fire extinguisher that lay near his body, which was found by the building’s caretaker in Courbevoie, west of the capital, the regional prosecutor’s office said.Authorities ruled out the possibility that Deby, who had a criminal record, might have died accidentally but said a head wound on his body might not have been related to his death.Toxicology tests were planned, said an official at the prosecutor’s office in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, on condition of anonymity because the case was open.The body was found early Monday in a corridor between the underground parking lot and a flight of stairs in the building. The prosecutor’s office said he apparently died violently.The Chadian president was told of his eldest son’s death in Accra, Ghana, where he was attending an African Union summit, the leader’s communications office said, calling the news a “great shock.”The office said Deby would not cut short his trip to the summit, which runs through Tuesday. It also said he was not expected to make an announcement until further details were available from investigators.Brahim Deby was convicted in June 2006 of possessing drugs and illegally carrying a weapon, and a Paris court gave him a suspended six-month jail sentence.The charges stemmed from Deby’s involvement in a fight outside a nightclub in western Paris, during which a semiautomatic pistol fell from his pocket, judicial officials said. He had no authorization to carry a weapon.During a search of his apartment, police discovered 375 grams of marijuana and 2 grams of cocaine, officials said.A poor central African nation, Chad shares a border with the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan. Conflict from the Darfur crisis has spilled over into eastern Chad.Chadian rebels also have challenged the Chadian president, who first came to power at the head of rebel forces. Competition for power in Chad has intensified since it began exporting oil several years ago.In 2006, Deby was re-elected to a third term as president. Critics contested the fairness of the elections, as well as those in 1996 and 2001.Power has never changed hands at the ballot box in Chad, which was a French colony until 1960. A 1990 takeover by Deby brought a semblance of peace after three decades of civil war and an invasion by Libya, but the president has become increasingly isolated in recent years.