TAANAYEL, Lebanon: Former Lebanese Ambassador Michel Fouad Abu Khater, 67, was found dead in the basement of his villa in the Bekaa Valley of Taanayel Tuesday. The former diplomat was reported missing by his sister, who had been trying to contact him since Saturday night, a source from the family told The Daily Star.
After several others tried to reach him without success, the Internal Security Forces were contacted Sunday. Discovering his line was out of network range, they used ladders to access the second floor of his home before finding his body in the basement.
Sources said forensic doctors concluded strangulation was the cause of death, and that the offenders had stuffed a piece of cloth in his mouth before asphyxiating him with a pillow.
Doctors said the murder was committed 72 hours ago.
An investigation has been launched, with authorities questioning family members, a house painter who was working Saturday and his concierge, who has said he found the house’s main gate closed Sunday, corroborating allegations he was killed Saturday night, security sources said.
The sources said there was more than one assailant. Evidence, including a broken ashtray, suggests there may have also been an altercation with the victim prior to the murder.
Sources said the perpetrators also stole hunting rifles, antiques and Abu Khater’s car, a 406 Peugeot. They also opened his safe, sources added.
The offenders were not professional thieves, sources said, and there was a possibility they knew Abu Khater. Motives of murder, theft or even family disputes have not been ruled out.
Abu Khater’s body was transported to Zahle’s Elias Hrawi Public Hospital.