(AFP) – Jan 26, 2010
DAVOS, Switzerland — The Swiss police commander overseeing security for the World Economic Forum in Davos was found dead Tuesday, police said, adding that it appeared to be a suicide.
The announcement came as political and business leaders began arriving in the Swiss mountain resort amid fortress-like security for the start Wednesday of the annual blue-chip meeting.
"Dr. Markus Reinhardt, commander of the Graubuenden cantonal police... was found dead in his hotel room (in Davos) in the morning," Swiss police said in a statement. "All indications point to a suicide."
The force paid tribute to the 61-year-old -- who had headed the canton's police force since 1984 -- as a "treasured, important personality", while another senior officer was immediately named to take charge of Davos security.
Switzerland is deploying about 4,000 soldiers for the forum, which is to be attended by around 2,500 people, including 30 heads of state and more than 60 ministers.
World Economic Forum (WEF) organisers stressed that Reinhardt was not a member of its staff but said the forum had long worked with him in preparing for the annual Davos mega-conference.
"The World Economic Forum has with great sadness and regret learned of the tragic death," said a WEF statement.
"During the many years during which we co-operated with him over security for our Annual Meeting at Davos, we appreciated his professionalism and his kindness.
"The (Swiss) Security Forces continue to have our full confidence and trust in their work," it added.
The head of Graubuenden's police department, Barbara Janom Steiner, called the death "a human tragedy".
While suicide appeared the most likely motive, no further details would be released while investigations continued, she said.
Reinhardt's deputy Robert Willi was immediately named to succeed the late police chief, while another senior officer Marcel Suter was put in charge of Davos security, Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported.
Reinhardt, who oversaw a 3,000-strong force, had a reputation for a no-nonsense handling of unauthorised protestors at the annual Davos meeting, which in the 1990s saw violence on at least one occasion.
He was also known locally for a controversial case in which he authorised the shooting dead of a man who had taken refuge in his apartment after starting a shooting spree, injuring one officer.
Reinhardt was put on trial charged with murder in 2002, but was acquitted, Le Temps said.
Switzerland's neighbour Austria said Tuesday it was deploying 1,000 troops and 30 aircraft to help Davos security, including fighter jets to guard the airspace above western Austria close to the Swiss ski resort.
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