Alps shooting girl returns to UK
on 09/09/2012 17:46:04
Saad al-Hilli, 50, was killed in his car alongside his dentist wife, Iqbal, on Wednesday while the couple's four-year-old daughter Zeena lay undiscovered under her mother's corpse for eight hours and her sister Zainab narrowly escaped death after being shot and beaten.
Zeena has flown back to the UK after two relatives travelled to France alongside a British social worker and family liaison officers from Surrey Police.
Meanwhile her sister Zainab, seven, has now come out of a medically-induced coma but remains under sedation.
An older Swedish woman travelling in the car also died in the shooting, with Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack in the Combe d'Ire forest near Chevaline.
Zeena has spoken to police and confirmed that two of the victims were her parents, but said she did not know the Swedish woman very well.
Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud told reporters: "She (Zeena) returned to the UK by air. On arrival she was put under the care of the authorities and the social services."
Mr Maillaud said he did not know the location where she was being housed.
Commenting on the progress made by key witness Zainab, he said: "The young girl is out of the artificial coma but she is sedated and therefore still can't be heard from."
The seven-year-old is expected to be interviewed by police as soon as doctors allow it, but Mr Maillaud could not say how long that may be.
Police resumed their examination of Mr al-Hilli's mock Tudor property this morning as part of the investigation into the murders that saw each of the four victims shot twice in the head.
Officers entered the al-Hillis' family home yesterday after a team of four French investigators, led by Colonel Marc de Tarle, arrived in the UK.
Investigators are looking at aspects of Mr al-Hilli's life to try to find a motive for the murders and have been speaking with his brother, named in reports as Zaid Hilli.
Mr Maillaud said Mr al-Hilli's sibling approached UK police to deny any feud with his brother over money and he would be interviewed with the rest of the al-Hilli family.
It is also believed detectives are looking into Mr al-Hilli's profession, with reports emerging that he was working as a contractor for a satellites technology company in Surrey.
Contact has been made between the French and Swedish authorities in an attempt to confirm the second deceased woman's relationship to the family.
French authorities have also asked their Italian and Swiss counterparts to help them in their hunt for the killer or killers.
Witnesses have said they saw a green four-wheel-drive vehicle in the area at the time of the killings, and possibly a motorbike.
Investigators found 25 spent bullet cartridges at the scene on the outskirts of a forest near Lake Annecy, while two mobile phones found in the al-Hilli's bullet-ridden BMW are being analysed by police.
One theory is that shots could have been fired during a bungled armed robbery, with Mr Mollier being a witness to the crime.
But speculation about other possible motives, including a pre-planned attack by professional hitmen, remained rife.
Some media reports have suggested that Mr al-Hilli, an engineer who left Saddam Hussein's Iraq several years ago, was known to the security services and was put under surveillance by Metropolitan Police Special Branch during the second Gulf war.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said they could not comment. But it is understood there is no link between the deaths and any national security issues.
Mr Maillaud revealed the family had visited France a number of times before and it was not the first time they had been to Le Solitaire du Lac, a campsite in Saint-Jorioz they were staying at when the attack happened.