MONTEVIDEO — A top Argentine official was found hanged Tuesday in his hotel room in Montevideo during a summit meeting of the South American trade group Mercosur, police said.
Ivan Heyn, the undersecretary of foreign trade, was found dead around 3:00 pm (1700 GMT) at the Radisson Hotel downtown, police spokesman Jose Luis Rondan told a news conference.
“He apparently died by hanging” with a belt, Rondan said. He said police were trying to determine whether it was a suicide or something else. A Uruguayan official earlier said Heyn had committed suicide.
A source close to the case told AFP on condition of anonymity that Heyn, 33, was naked when he was found, nearly six hours after his death.
News of his death shocked the Mercosur summit, attended by the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner was informed about the death while she was attending a closed door meeting of the presidents, and was so upset she was seen by her doctor, according to the Uruguayan official.
But Kirchner, who is supposed to assume the presidency of the bloc during the summit, later returned to the meeting with the other presidents.
Organizers meanwhile canceled a planned official picture of the leaders.
Security was beefed up at the hotel, where some of the leaders attending the summit are staying.
Argentina’s embassy confirmed Heyn’s death, and said in a statement that Uruguayan authorities were taking “all the necessary legal steps with regard to this tragic incident.”
Heyn was a promising economist who belonged to the Peronist youth group La Campora that supports the governments of Kirchner and her late husband Nestor Kirchner.
A former leader of the Argentine University Federation, Heyn was an undersecretary in the Ministry of the Economy during Cristina Kirchner’s first term. He took up his new post just 10 days ago after Kirchner’s reelection.