Hopes pinned on wounded girl as Alps shooting probe stalls

Investigators into the murders of a British family in the French Alps were pinning their hopes on a seven-year-old girl wounded in the attack, as they struggled to make headway in the case.

Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said police hoped the girl, who remains in a medically induced coma after being shot and badly beaten in the attack, would be able to finally shed some light on the mysterious murders.

"She is a key witness," he said. "We hope that she will be able to tell us what she went through, provide us with descriptions of the murderer or murderers."

Prosecutors are also investigating if a family feud over money could have been the motive for Wednesday's brutal slayings. The brother of the British man slain in the attack has denied any such dispute to British police.

French police have so far failed to make much progress in the investigation into the killings.

Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old Briton born in Iraq, his wife Ikbal and his 74-year-old mother-in-law were gunned down in a forest car park in an Alpine tourist area on Wednesday.

Their seven-year-old daughter Zainab was left for dead. Their four-year-old daughter Zeena also survived the attack, having hidden undetected for eight hours under her dead mother's skirts.

A local man, 45-year-old Sylvain Mollier, was also killed after apparently stumbling on the attack on the family's car.

Maillaud said British police had told French authorities of a financial dispute between Hilli and his brother, but he cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

"The brother spontaneously presented himself to the British authorities, at first because he was worried and wanted to know if it was true that his brother had died in France," Maillaud said.

"He went back again today and told them: I have no conflict with my brother."

In France, Maillaud also revealed that Hilli was "totally unknown" to British and French intelligence services, contradicting media reports suggesting he had been placed under surveillance around the time of the last Iraq war.

It was unclear when the elder daughter might be in a condition to be questioned, he said.

"She is still under medical protection. The doctors have absolutely not given a green light for her to be interviewed," the prosecutor said. "If and when they do, it will happen in the presence of British diplomats."

He added however that she was doing better after surgery and was "out of danger".

Maillaud said a former Royal Air Force pilot who found the victims within minutes of their deaths had seen a "green or other dark-coloured four-wheel drive car."

Four-year-old Zeena had been unable to help investigators, he said. Officers had to be "extremely careful about the declarations of a traumatised little girl", he added.

She was being cared for by child psychology experts and British embassy staff and was due to be returned to England soon, he said.

Post-mortems on the victims' bodies had begun and results were due late Friday or early Saturday. The response to a formal request for DNA samples from Britain was also expected to arrive on Saturday.

The family were killed in their British-registered BMW estate car in a forest car park near the village of Chevaline in the picturesque Haute-Savoie region.

Each had been shot multiple times, including at least once in the head.

Maillaud said about 25 spent bullet casings were found near the vehicle.

"The number of casings suggests that there were two shooters," a police source said. "This changes things a bit, because the scenario from the beginning was a single shooter."

The family, from Surrey in southern England, had been staying since Monday at the nearby Saint Jorioz camp site.

French authorities on Friday formally opened two criminal investigations into the shooting: one for the pre-meditated murders of the four victims and the other for the attempted murders of the two child survivors.

Three French police officers have arrived in England to work with British police on the case and a fourth is due to arrive on Saturday, officials in London said.

Authorities unblocked access to the site of the killing in Chevaline Friday but few signs remained of the incident aside from some broken glass, tyre tracks and small traces of blood.

In Britain, bouquets of flowers were building up outside the family's spacious home in Claygate, a teddy bear placed among them.

"They were a lovely, lovely family," said one of a group of tearful mothers whose children attended the local primary school with the two girls.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options