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Top French prof died in New York of 'heart attack'

The Local/AFP · 31 May 2012, 09:23

Published: 31 May 2012 09:23 GMT+02:00

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The New York coroner on Wednesday announced that a top French academic whose body was found naked in his hotel room last month, died of natural causes.

"He died of a heart attack," coroner's spokeswoman Ellen Borakov told AFP.

"The actual wording on the death certificate says hypertensive heart disease. That means high blood pressure," she said.

Richard Descoings, 53, headed the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, known as Sciences-Po, and was in New York for a conference when he suddenly died, sparking huge interest in his native France.

He failed to show up to an event, prompting a search and the discovery of his naked body in his Manhattan hotel room on April 3rd.

Initially the coroner's office said it expected to establish a cause of death within two weeks. However, the investigation took more than a month.

Police have ruled out anything suspicious.

Descoings had been attending a meeting of the heads of major universities under the aegis of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and had been due to meet four colleagues in the Michelangelo Hotel in Manhattan at 9am.

When he failed to show up, they assumed he had left without them for the conference and only became alarmed when they could not find him.

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A statement from the institute said Descoings had been at its helm for 16 years, during which he had "profoundly transformed" one of France's leading seats of learning, which traditionally educates the country's political and diplomatic elite.

The then French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Descoings' "exceptional career," saying in a statement he had "devoted his whole life to his chosen cause... education."

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

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