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Alps girl, 4, 'key' to France massacre motive as police continue questioning

Thursday, 6 September 2012

*Zeena al-Hilli, the girl of four who survived an 'execution-style' massacre in the French Alps which killed both her parents and her grandmother, will be the subject of a continuing delicate investigation by French police today.

Police block access to the place in Chevaline, in the French Alps, where the family members were found shot dead (Picture: AP)

Zeena, who has uttered just a few words since she was found in the blood-splattered BMW in which three members of her family were killed, is said to be a key witness as police seek to piece together what happened.

She was found under the bodies after eight hours.

Since she was discovered in the car in the French Alps, she has only told police: ‘There was noise and I was scared.’

Police will try again today to talk to the four-year-old in a bid to make sense of the events surrounding Wednesday's killings. She could hold the key to helping them capture whoever carried out the crime.Zeena was found under the skirt of one of the dead women by officers – who waited for hours before opening the car, not realising she was inside.

The young girl smiled and put her arms out to the officers but has been unable to say anything about what happened. She is being helped by a child psychiatrist in hospital.

Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud said she was ‘terrorised, motionless, in the midst of the bodies’.He added: ‘Can you imagine the state of the young girl, four years old, who spent eight hours under a body that was not moving?’

The family was attacked in their car while on a camping holiday in the French Alps on Wednesday.

Zeena’s sister, Zainab, seven, was beaten and shot in the shoulder but survived. She is recovering in Grenoble University Hospital.

The body of a French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also found lying in the road next to the car.The girls' father, Saad al-Hilli, 50, originally from Iraq, was gunned down alongside his dentist wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, and a woman believed to be her mother.

Three of the four who were killed were shot in the middle of the head.Police said the motive for the attack remained a mystery but revealed there were signs of a vehicle braking at the scene.No weapon had been found and no arrests had been made and it is not clear if the shootings were carried out by one killer or a number of people.

Mr Maillaud said: 'I won't say it was professional, what I will say is it was tremendous savagery. And what is certain is that somebody wanted to kill.'

A British cyclist, a former RAF serviceman who had been overtaken by the French rider, discovered the grisly scene in a quiet car park.

He is believed to have put the injured seven-year-old in the recovery position and immediately called the emergency services.The family was shot through the windows of the BMW but the glass had not shattered.

Police feared it would fall in and contaminate the scene if they opened the doors so were waiting for forensic experts.

But they decided to do so when other campers said there were two children on holiday with the family.
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Source: Afp News - on September 10, 2012

News video: UK bomb squad leaves Alps murder familys house

UK bomb squad leaves Alps murder familys house

British army bomb disposal experts on Monday left the house of a family killed in the French Alps, after examining a number of suspicious items. In France, the seven year old survivor of the massacre was still unable to speak to investigators. Duration: 00:31

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