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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

No foul play in death of billionaire husband Sindika Dokolo, Dubai Police say

The drowning of the Congolese businessman, who was married to Angolan tycoon Isabel dos Santos, was ruled an accident

Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese businessman and art collector, drowned while free-diving off the coast of Dubai on Thursday, police have confirmed.

On Sunday, Dubai Police said the husband of Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos had been free-diving in an area just north of Deira Island when he died.

Maj Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, assistant chief of police, said marine rescue teams were sent to the site after receiving an emergency call.

Dokolo, 48, was about 13km from the shore.

The man was found deceased after performing a free dive

Maj Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, Dubai Police

His body was recovered from the water by police divers.

"The man was found deceased after performing a free dive locally known as Al-Hiyari - a form of underwater dive that relies on breath-holding rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear,” said Maj Gen Al Mansouri.

Police investigated Dokolo's death, taking statements from his friends and reviewing the forensic report. These concluded there was no criminal suspicion behind Dokola's death.

Dokolo's family announced his death in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Thursday.

"The Dokolo family, his wife, children, mother, brother and sisters have the deepest sorrow and immense sadness to announce the passing of Sindika Dokolo, which occurred on October 29, 2020 in Dubai. We thank all who have expressed their sympathy and kindness and who share our grief," the family statement read.

A colleague and friend of Dokolo, Cedric Mala, said Dokolo had years of diving experience and always spoke passionately about it.

Dokolo was a major art collector and is said to have owned more than 5,000 contemporary African artworks.

He was seen as a leader in a movement to return African art and artefacts to museums on the continent.

He married the daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Angola for 38 years, in 2002. The couple faced corruption charges after Ms Dos Santos' father stepped down in 2017 and his successor, President Joao Lourenco, embarked on an anti-corruption campaign.

They were accused of steering $1 billion in state funds to companies in which they held stakes during her father’s presidency, reported Reuters.

Angolan authorities seized their accounts late last year. Dokolo and Ms dos Santos denied any allegations of wrongdoing, saying the government targeted them for political reasons, reported AFP.

Updated: November 1, 2020 04:58 PM

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