Family member ... Muammar Gaddafi.

Family member ... Muammar Gaddafi. Photo: Reuters

A half-British woman who was raised in Libya and became engaged to a member of the Gaddafi family has been found murdered in her apartment in Cairo, where she fled to escape threats to her life.

The body of Zahra al-Boueishi, 31, who was born in Scotland to a mother from Liverpool, England, was discovered by her sister Edele.

Egyptian police have named her Libyan half-brother as a suspect, and Edele al-Boueishi says she believes her sister's death is linked to the two girls' extraordinary life stories. They were both born in Britain and after years of separation had only just organised reunions with their British mother.

"We escaped all the violence," Edele told London's The Daily Telegraph. "And the result of her escape was to come here and be killed."

Police in Cairo said Zahra died from multiple stab wounds. They suspect her brother, Mohammed al-Boueishi, was at the flat on the morning she died. They told newspapers that one line of inquiry they are pursuing is that it was an "honour killing". It was suggested she wanted to become an actress, which the family found unacceptable.

But Edele fears her murder might be connected to a relationship with their Libyan family, who raised them after the marriage of their mother, Susan Kendrick, to their father, Sabri al-Boueishi, broke down.

Mr Boueishi was in Britain to study engineering. After graduating, he returned to Libya, seizing the two girls. Around the same time, Police Constable Yvonne Fletcher was killed outside the Libyan embassy in London and diplomatic relations were broken off. Mrs Kendrick, who later remarried, was unable to track down the girls for 12 years.

When she finally did, through a charity, there was no resolution. The girls did not speak good English, and at 14 and 16 were under the control of their father's family.

What came next was even more extraordinary. While at university, Zahra met a young army officer and fell in love. The two became engaged. His name was Masaoud al-Gaddafi, a distant relative of Libya's pre-eminent family. Masaoud lavished gifts, money and a house on Zahra. The relationship broke up, but the couple remained friends. During last year's uprising, Masaoud was killed, fighting in Sirte.

By this time, Edele said, her half-brother was challenging Zahra over money and threatening to gain control of her house. Zahra was also a member of a pro-Gaddafi "popular committee" or a militia, and was briefly arrested after the war.

Meanwhile, the sisters had at last been put back in touch with their mother.

This year, mother and daughters were able to write to each other, to join each other's Facebook pages, and finally to plan a reunion.

Edele met her mother for the first time in 12 years two months ago in Tunis, where she herself had fled with her husband. "It was a very emotional experience," Edele said. "All my memories came back to me.

"For months I had felt this urge to see my mother. Sometimes I would dream about her. It was intense."

Mrs Kendrick was due to meet Zahra next month in Cairo. But this month Edele, who spoke to her sister by phone every day, found she could no longer get through. Her calls went unanswered for three days. In a panic, she flew to Cairo and went to her apartment. Breaking down the door with the watchman, she found her sister's body in her bedroom. "Her skin was blue, and her body was partially cut up," she said. "She had been stabbed 17 times."

Police have issued a warrant for Mohammed al-Boueishi's arrest, but relations are not good between Egypt and Libya and there is no prospect of extradition.

Edele al-Boueishi fears her own life might be at risk. "If they do this to her, they can do it to me," she said.

The Daily Telegraph, London