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British girls who survived shooting of family in French Alps to be re-interviewed

Written by on 6 September 2020

Two young British girls who survived the horrific shooting of their family in France eight years ago are to be re-interviewed in a bid to solve the mystery.

Zainab al Hilli was seven and her sister Zeena four when they witnessed the killing of their parents, their grandmother and a passing cyclist in the Alps.

The killer has never been identified and several theories were explored but no motive was established for the bloodbath on a mountain road near the picturesque town of Annecy in September 2012.

Saad al Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47 and her mother Suhaila al Allaf, 74, all died in the attack in which a lone gunman fired 25 bullets into the family’s parked car.

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Saad al Hilli was shot dead in the French Alps

Zainab, who is now 15 and Zeena, 12, were put into the care of other members of their family who are of Iraqi origin.

Annecy prosecutor Veronique Denizot said: “The British judicial authorities have given permission for the girls, the two Al-Hilli daughters, to be heard again.

“The older daughter was originally heard when she came out of hospital in Grenoble after the events, and she offered certain details, to the investigators, to the magistrates involved in this dossier.”

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Zainab survived after being shot in the shoulder and beaten around the head. She was found stumbling along the road nearby.

Zeena was discovered cowering underneath her dead mother’s legs in the back of the car.

Ms Denizot said: “If the children can speak again, can offer new elements, perhaps they have new things to say that will help.

“Up until now they have been judged as being too traumatised, and in the wrong psychological state.”

Police officers stand outside the house of Saad al-Hilli and his family in Claygate near London in 2012
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Police officers in the UK and France have been investigating the murders

Ms Denizot said the “slightest new recollection” by one of the girls might be enough to get the stalled investigation moving again.

“Perhaps a detail, a little element that can reopen the enquiry. It is something that we would want to achieve with the help of the British authorities.”

The family were on a camping trip and their BMW was parked in a lay-by beside a wood when they were attacked for no apparent reason.

One theory suggested Mr al Hilli had been attacked because of his job as an engineer, while another focused on a row over a family will, but no definite motive was established. A local dispute was considered the most likely and the family were simply and innocently caught up in it.