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No signs of foul play in death of French scholar, investigators say

More testing is required to determine the cause of death of a prominent French scholar whose body was found in the bed of his Manhattan luxury hotel room, the city's medical examiner said Wednesday.

So far, an investigation into the death of Richard Descoings, who was found Tuesday, has turned up no obvious signs of foul play or trauma to his body.

Empty alcohol bottles and prescription medication were discovered in his seventh-floor room. There was no evidence that anyone had broken in to where Descoings, head of one of France's top colleges, had been staying, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.

A laptop computer and a cellphone believed to belong to Descoings were found on a third-floor ledge below his room at The Michelangelo hotel, police said, but it was unclear how they got there.

An autopsy performed Wednesday required further study. The medical examiner's office said it would perform toxicology and other tests.

Descoings, 53, who pioneered in opening elitist schools to the underprivileged, had been scheduled to appear Tuesday at a conference at Columbia University.

When Descoings didn't show up and failed to answer repeated phone calls, organizers contacted hotel security, police said. The hotel called 911 after his body was found Tuesday afternoon.

In France, news of the death prompted praise for Descoings from President Nicolas Sarkozy and other high-profile figures.

Descoings' tenure as director of the Paris Institute of Political Studies, or Sciences Po, marked "a historic turning point in awareness of scandalous social elitism in France," Sarkozy said.

France is well-known for its elitist educational system, in which only a handful of schools, including Sciences Po, produce a majority of the country's top leaders. One in four students now benefit from scholarships, aimed at helping talented students with modest financial means.

Descoings also made the school world-renowned after he opened it to foreign students, Sarkozy said.

Hundreds of students held a memorial service Wednesday on the university grounds.