Chadian President Idriss Deby's son was found dead on Monday in the basement of his apartment building in a Paris suburb, and officials were treating the case as a murder investigation, authorities said.
A preliminary autopsy showed that Brahim Deby, 27, died from asphyxiation from chemicals released by a fire extinguisher, which lay near his body and was discovered by the building's caretaker in the suburb of Courbevoie, west of the capital, officials from the prosecutor's office said.
Authorities were ruling out the possibility that Deby, who had a criminal record, may have died accidentally, but said a head wound on Deby's body may not have been related to his death.
Toxicology tests were planned, said an official from the prosecutor's office in Nanterre, west of the capital, on condition of anonymity.
Deby's body was found in a corridor between an underground parking lot and a flight of stairs in the apartment building. The prosecutor's office said he had apparently died violently.
The Chadian leader was told of his son's death in Accra, Ghana, where he was attending the African Union summit, his communications office said, saying the news came as a "great shock" to him. He was not expected to make an announcement until further details were available from investigators.
The spokesman said the president would not cut short his trip to Ghana, but instead would stay through to the end of the summit, which was to end yesterday.
Brahim Deby was the president's oldest son and had no official government post, according to the Chadian president's office.
He was convicted on drugs and weapons charges in June 2006. A Paris court handed him a suspended six-month jail sentence for possession of drugs and illegally carrying a weapon.
The trial stemmed from Brahim Deby's involvement in a fight outside a western Paris nightclub during which a semiautomatic pistol fell from his pocket, judicial officials said.
He had no authorization to carry a weapon, and the prosecution accused him of using a diplomatic suitcase to have the weapon delivered.
During a search of his apartment, police discovered 375g of marijuana and 2g of cocaine, officials said.
A poor central African nation, Chad borders Sudan and its Darfur region, which has been wracked by violence.
Conflict from the Darfur crisis has spilled over into eastern Chad.
Chadian rebels have also challenged Idriss Deby, who first came to power himself at the head of rebel columns.
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.
He faced only token opposition in last year's vote, which came just weeks after rebels, including relatives of Deby, failed in a bid to capture the capital. The insurgents staged the attack from bases in the volatile region where Chad meets Darfur.
Power has never changed hands at the ballot box in Chad.
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.
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