Thursday September 13,2012
Iraqi-born victim Saad Al-Hilli
THE British family massacred in the French Alps were “no ordinary tourists”, a police source said yesterday.
French detectives’ suspicions over the Al-Hilli family’s “holiday” at a campsite near Lake Annecy were revealed as surgeons said that key witness seven-year-old Zainab Al-Hilli may have lost her sight after being pistol-whipped during the horrific attack.
Iraqi-born engineer Saad Al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law Suhaila Al-Allaf, 74, were shot dead in their BMW car near the village of Chevaline, last week.
The killer, armed with a 7.65mm semi-automatic pistol, also murdered cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45.
Zainab suffered brain injuries, according to doctors treating her at the University Hospital in Grenoble.
Her four-year-old sister, Zeena, survived by hiding under her mother’s body.
The police source said: “Police quickly demonstrated that the victims did not correspond to the profiles of ‘normal tourists’ and they were not assassinated in ‘normal’ conditions.”
Yesterday, the family’s relatives spoke for the first time of their grief.
Ahmed Al-Saffar, Mrs Al-Allaf’s brother, said: “The victim’s family and I are heartbroken by this shocking crime and we have been touched by the expressions of sympathy from people all over the world.
“We are very grateful for the support provided by the British, French and Iraqi authorities during this difficult time.
We hope that those responsible for the deaths of our loved ones are brought swiftly to justice.”
However, French prosecutor Eric Maillaud, due to arrive in the UK today to meet British detectives and visit the family’s home in Claygate, Surrey, said it could take years to catch the killer or killers.
He said 40 French officers were working on the complex case and were investigating several possible motives for the massacre.
Mr Maillaud said: “The fact that he was born in Iraq, that he had family in Iraq, of course that’s something of interest and we are asking ourselves if there is a link between that and his death.”
Asked when the mystery might be solved, he said: “We might have the answers in two, three or 10 years – it’s a painstaking procedure. It’s not like the American TV series where they solve everything in 45 minutes.”
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