Graphic images of a couple taken after they were shot on
a Libyan beach have been removed from a Facebook page after
site administrators were inundated with emails from outraged
Wellingtonian Lynn Howie, 46, and her British-born boyfriend
Mark De Salis, 48, were shot dead as they picnicked at an
isolated beach at Sabratha, about 100km from Tripoli.
Ms Howie, a mother of two, was visiting Tripoli to see where
Mr De Salis worked. The couple then planned to go on to
London before returning to NZ to live together.
Even before the couple had been identified, the Sabratha
Media Centre obtained a photograph of the bodies at the crime
scene and published it on Facebook.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was alerted to the
photographs and made moves to stop it being circulated and
published, saying it would be "highly distressing" to the
Yesterday a spokesman from the centre confirmed the
photograph of the couple on the beach had been removed from
its Facebook page.
"The number of messages received via email from foreign
persons from New Zealand and other countries ... have asked
the management [of this] page to delete a [photo of] corpses
that were found on the shore of the city of Sabratha because
[of] their parents," he said. "We have deleted [at] the
request of many of our viewers."
Mfat yesterday dismissed reports from Libya that four people
had been arrested in connection with the murders.
"We have been advised by the Libyan authorities that no
arrests have been made," said spokesman Adham Crichton. "An
investigation by the Libyan authorities into Ms Howie's death
is under way."
The motive for the killing is not known. It may have been
political, or the result of an adverse reaction to the
presence of an unmarried couple by extremist Muslims.
The area where they were found is said to be extremely remote
and accessible only by 4WD. Beachgoers have been targeted by
armed thieves there in the past, though there is nothing to
suggest the couple were killed in a botched robbery.
Expat Di Alpers said there was a lot of speculation about why
the couple were killed. "The most consistent is that [they]
were in the wrong place at the wrong time and may have
witnessed something untoward such as gun running, or loading
of boat people, or black market deals."
Ms Howie's family have declined to comment on her death, as
has Mr De Salis' Blenheim-based brother Roger. His cousin
Richard De Salis offered his condolences and best wishes to
Ms Howie's family.
- Anna Leask of the New Zealand Herald