BEIRUT: One of Lebanon’s most famous kayakers and rafters, and founder of the country’s Canoe-Kayak Federation, was found dead on Wednesday after an alleged burglary of his house in the south of the country.
The body of Ali Mohammed Awada, who hails from the southern village of Khiyam, was discovered in a pool of blood at his home near Al-Kharadly Bridge in a suspected case of a bungled burglary.
Awada was also founder of the local Al-Kharadly Canoe-Kayak and Rafting Club, which was headquartered at his home in the town, close to one of Lebanon’s longest rivers — the Litani River — where his body was found.
Forensic examiner Ali Deeb told Arab News that the victim had been stabbed in the left side of his chest, which caused bleeding in his lungs and was the cause of death.
Deeb, who examined the crime scene, said: “He was obviously standing at the time he was stabbed since the blood dripped down to the floor.”
He said Awada must have tried to defend himself because his body had bruising.
According to the forensic examiner, the alleged burglars had brought with them an iron saw in an attempt to open Awada’s safe.
The time of death was estimated to be between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Jan. 12.
An officer at the Internal Security Forces told Arab News that investigations were ongoing to identify the culprits responsible for the killing.
The founder and former secretary-general of the Lebanese Canoe-Kayak Federation, Awada had previously lived in Toulouse where he once served as a technical director for the French Olympic team.
He came to Lebanon in 1995 and established the federation in a bid to introduce canoeing and kayaking as a means to unite people after 20 years of civil war. He also helped to popularize rafting.
He returned to Lebanon for good in 2000 after the conclusion of the South Lebanon conflict.
Awada said he established the federation with the aim of developing the sports in Lebanon to produce athletes at a competitive level as well as to allow more people to participate in them.
Awada’s death triggered a social media frenzy with many followers, friends and members of his club mourning him and posting obituaries and condolences.
One of his close friends, Elie, commented on Awada’s Facebook page, saying: “Rest in peace my dearest friend…I cannot believe what I just read.”
Another friend, Mohammed, posted photos of them together and a long obituary commemorating Awada’s visit to Al-Hermel’s Assi river — one of Lebanon’s top rafting and kayaking spots — in 1998.