Widow questioned in Indian-origin lottery winner's death in US

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 09:49 hrs

Chicago: The widow of a USD one million Indian-American lottery winner, who died of cyanide poisoning, has been questioned extensively by Chicago police after her husband's death was reclassified as a homicide, her attorney said.

Urooj Khan, 46, owned a dry-cleaning business in Chicago and had won a million dollar in an Illinois lottery scratch ticket in June last year. A month later, Khan died just a day after he received the cheque for his lottery win.

Authorities investigating Khan's death executed a search warrant at the home he had shared with his wife Shabana Ansari, according to her attorney Steven Kozicki.

32-year-old Shabana, Khan's second wife, later was interviewed by detectives for more than four hours, answering all their questions, the Chicago Tribune quoted her attorney as saying. "She's got nothing to hide," Kozicki said.

Kozicki said his client adored her husband and had no financial interest in seeing harm come to him.

"Now in addition to grieving her husband, she's struggling to run the business that he essentially ran while he was alive," Kozicki said. "Once people analyse it, they (would) realise she's in a much worse financial position after his death than she was before."

According to court records, Khan's brother has squabbled with Ansari over the money in probate court.

The brother, Imtiaz, raised concern that because Khan left no will, his 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage would not get "her fair share" of her father's estate. Khan and Shabana did not have children.

Meanwhile, Cook County prosecutors are drafting court papers and expect a judge to hear the matter tomorrow at the Daley Center courthouse, Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has said.

Initially, the Cook County medical examiner's office had ruled that Khan died of natural causes.

However, Khan's relative asked officials to re-examine the cause of his death and new screening results now show that a lethal amount of cyanide was present in Khan's system, prompting police to probe the death as homicide.

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