12/29/2011 08:22 EST | Updated 02/28/2012 05:12 EST

Overdose Cited In Canadian's Death In Hong Kong


Police in Hong Kong say that an autopsy of a young Newfoundlander found dead in a public washroom this month shows that Joey Basha likely died of an overdose.

The body of Basha, 25, was found in a washroom stall in Hong Kong on Dec. 21, although it remained unidentified in a morgue for days while police and friends searched in vain to find him.

"An autopsy revealed that the preliminary cause of death of Mr. Basha was due to 'overdose,'" a Hong Kong police official said Thursday in a statement to CBC News.

Basha, who was from St. John's, had been studying in Hong Kong, and also performed in a rock band called Milkteeth.

Meanwhile, Basha's family is raising questions about how authorities in Hong Kong handled the case.

"It's not that I'm certain my brother didn't overdose ... I don't know," Basha's sister, Jackie Berenson, told CBC News in a telephone interview from Hong Kong.

Berenson says there is not yet "substantial evidence" at this point — such as a toxicology report — to make that conclusion.

She says a hypodermic needle was found by her brother's body, but there was no evidence of long-term intravenous drug use.

Berenson wants police to continue their investigation to conclusively determine what happened.

Meanwhile, another sister of Basha is wondering why the morgue was not checked for several days.

"This is a huge mess-up in this investigation," Cindy Basha said. "We lost a chunk of time."

Speaking with CBC News before police indicated the cause of death, Phyllis Basha said she has been bewildered by what the family has learned from authorities.

"It was left to me that this child of mine was found dead in a terrible location and there was absolutely no explanation," Basha said.

She said that her son's remains will be cremated in Hong Kong and then flown back to St. John's.