The son of Chadian President Idriss Deby was found dead with a gash on his head Monday in the basement of his apartment building in a Paris suburb, and officials were treating the case as a homicide investigation, judicial officials said.

The building's caretaker found Brahim Deby's body early Monday, the prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said. The prosecution official said Deby had apparently died violently and that authorities were working on the hypothesis that he had been murdered.

His body was found in a corridor between the underground parking lot and a flight of stairs in the building in Courbevoie, west of Paris, the prosecutors' office said.

Paris police were investigating the death, and an autopsy was to be performed later Monday, the officials said.

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In Chad, the president's office said it was aware of the death but had no other details. Brahim Deby, 27, was the president's oldest son and had no official government post, according to the president's office, which added President Deby was in Ghana Monday for an African Union summit.

Brahim Deby was convicted on drugs and weapons charges in June 2006. A Paris court handed him a suspended six-month jail sentence for possession of drugs and illegally carrying a weapon.

A poor central African nation, Chad shares a border with the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan. Conflict from the Darfur crisis has spilled over into eastern Chad.

Chadian rebels also have challenged Idriss Deby, who first came to power himself at the head of rebel columns. Competition for power in Chad has intensified since it began exporting oil several year ago.

In 2006, Idriss Deby was re-elected to a third term as president. Critics contested the fairness of the elections, as well as those in 1996 and 2001.

He faced only token opposition in last year's vote, which came just weeks after rebels, who include Deby's relatives, failed in a bid to capture the capital. The insurgents staged the attack from bases in the volatile region where Chad meets Darfur.

Power has never changed hands at the ballot box in Chad. A 1990 takeover by Deby brought a semblance of peace after three decades of civil war and an invasion by Libya, but the president has become increasingly isolated in recent years.

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