Kiwi's new life ended by murder in Libya

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 08:53 06/01/2014
Lynn Howie
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TRAGEDY: Wellington woman Lynn Howie was shot dead in Libya.
Mark De Salis
SLAIN: Mark De Salis was found dead with Howie on the beach.

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A Wellington mother-of-two and her partner were preparing to start a new life in a new home when an adventure turned to tragedy.

Lynn Howie, 47, and her British partner, Mark De Salis, were found dead near Sabratha, 65 kilometres west of Libya's capital, Tripoli on Thursday.

Details surrounding the deaths remain vague, but a photo being circulated by Libyan media show the couple were shot while enjoying a romantic picnic on the coast. It has been reported that their car and belongings were not taken.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) said it had been told there have been no arrests by Libyan police, contrary to Libyan media reports yesterday.

Spokesman Adam Crichton said and investigation was underway and Howie's family had requested privacy.

Howie lived and worked in New Zealand but was visiting De Salis. They had planned to travel on to London when they were killed.

A friend of Howie, who did not want to be named, said the couple had bought their first home together and were planning a move to the Hutt Valley in the next couple of months.

"Lynn was a wonderful woman who adored her boys. She would not do anything to put herself knowingly in harm's way.

"She had a love of life and experience and family and friends," the friend said.

Howie had met De Salis about six months ago, and the friend described their connection as "instant", having seen the two of them together in Wellington in November.

"We had only met him the once but he doted on her during the brief time we spent with them . . . [Lynn] was excited about their future together."

Howie worked in the health sector, including roles with Ministry of Health and Regional Public Health. She had been a volunteer event medic with both St John Ambulance and Wellington Free Ambulance.

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman said the organisation's sympathies were with the family but it did not want to make a statement.

Howie had been studying towards a bachelor of nursing at Whitirea Community Polytechnic.

She had previously studied at the University of Birmingham in England, where she had obtained a Master of Science degree in environmental health in 2006, the Daily Mail reported.

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She also obtained a Bachelor of Science in environmental biology at Nene College Northampton, where she studied between 1986 and 1989.

De Salis had been working as a business manager in Tripoli for six years according to a family statement released through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which described him as a "decent and incredibly loyal man".

"The family of Mark De Salis are shocked and devastated to hear about Mark's death in Libya. Mark enjoyed his work in Tripoli and liked the Libyan people," it said. "He will be sadly missed by his family and friends."

The family confirmed De Salis was a former RAF officer.

A UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said an official was liaising closely with the Libyan authorities on following up the shootings.

"We call upon the Libyan Government to carry out a thorough investigation in to this tragic incident and to continue to do all it can to bring to justice the perpetrators of this appalling crime, as it strives to build strong rule of law in Libya."

There are five New Zealanders currently living in Libya, and MFAT advises of extreme risk for those travelling in the country, due to the significant threat from terrorism and kidnapping and advises against all travel.

Last month a teacher from the United States was shot dead while out running in Benghazi - the UK Foreign Office said at the time that further attacks against Westerners were likely and could be opportunistic.

- The Dominion Post

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