Uber driver arrested over UK diplomat murder in Lebanon

Officials say they have no reason to believe the attack was politically motivated

The Lebanese man detained on suspicion of sexually assaulting and killing a British woman employed at the UK embassy in Beirut was an Uber driver, Reuters reported.

A senior Lebanese security source said that the suspect has previous criminal violations.

Rebecca Dykes, 30, was found dead on Saturday, her body dumped on the side of an expressway north of Lebanon’s capital.

A police spokesman said that the suspect was scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

“The suspected killer is a Lebanese taxi driver, identified as Tarek H,” said Lebanon’s National News Agency.

Tarek gave Dykes a lift from Gemmayzeh, where she was on a night out, and he transported her from Achrafieh to the Metn highway, where he tried to assault her.

“He then threw her body away after [strangling her] with a rope.”

The news agency said the suspect had admitted to the crime.

The police spokesman said that Dykes's body bore signs of strangulation and sexual assault, adding officials had no indication that the attack was politically motivated.

Dykes was last seen early on Saturday morning leaving a bar in Gemmayzeh, a neighbourhood in east Beirut popular for its nightlife.

Her family, the UK ambassador and the UK's department for international development released statements on Sunday expressing their shock and sadness, but provided no further information.

Her family said: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy."

Meanwhile, British ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said: “The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news. Our thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss.

“We are providing consular support to Becky’s family and working very closely with the Lebanese local authorities who are conducting the police investigation.”

An Uber spokesman said in an e-mail to Reuters: "We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way they can"

Dykes's LinkedIn page described her as a programme and policy manager with the DFID, a position she had held since January.

She had worked in London on diplomatic programmes related to Iraq and Libya, the LinkedIn page said.

Such crime is rare in Beirut, which is considered a generally safe city.

Updated: December 18, 2017 06:49 PM


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