Ghana officials looking into Canadian bureaucrat's death

The Golden Tulip Hotel is pictured in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. Local newspapers have reported that Canadian diplomat Darrell Prokopetz died while staying at the hotel.

Credits: Kwaku David/QMI Agency


OTTAWA - Police in Ghana are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding the death of a senior Canadian bureaucrat in the West African country last month.

Darrell Prokopetz, 54, died Jan. 30 while on a development project as part of a two-man team with the Canada School of Public Service and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Citing anonymous sources, the Daily Guide Ghana newspaper reported Monday that Prokopetz was rushed to hospital "in an unconscious state after an alleged overdose of cocaine, liquor and sex."

Ghana police are downplaying those allegations.

Airport Police Station District Commander Aduhene Banieh confirmed to QMI Agency Tuesday there was a coroner inquiry looking into Prokopetz's death and that local authorities were in close contact with the Canadian High Commission in Ghana's capital Accra.

But regarding other reports by the newspaper, he said "that story was exaggerated" before referring all further question to Canadian authorities.

In Ottawa, officials remained tight-lipped about how Prokopetz died and how long he had been in abroad.

The Golden Tulip hotel where the Canadian bureaucrat was staying released a statement, saying he was found unconscious in his room by hotel staff and rushed to a nearby clinic where he died.

"A preliminary autopsy report suggests that Mr. Prokopetz died of a heart failure," general manager Thom Sheriff said in the e-mailed statement.

"The hotel awaits the results of the full-scale investigation, which has been launched by the Ghana Police Service into the death of Mr. Prokopetz."

Two weeks after Prokopetz's death, security remained tight around the four-star hotel in an Accra suburb, where Canadian embassy staff were reported to be on the scene.

A local photographer taking photos of the hotel from the street on Tuesday was detained and later released by Accra police - but not before his camera was confiscated.

In a statement Monday, the department of foreign affairs said their "thoughts were with family and friends of the Canadian citizen who passed away in Ghana" and said Canadian consular officials were in contact with local authorities "to gather additional information."

Prokopetz was apparently with the school - funded by the federal government to train public servants - as part of its international services branch. The project partnered with the Ghanaian Public Service Commission to help initiate public sector reform in that country.

The school has been running the program in Ghana since 2011.

--With files from David Akin

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