x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

French authorities: Alps shooting still a mystery

French prosecutor denied a newspaper report that investigators know who was the first victim of the Alps shooting last month.

PARIS // Police do not know which of the four victims of last month's French Alps shooting was the first to be killed, the prosecutor in charge of the case said yesterday, denying a newspaper report.

"Nothing allows us to state the order in which the four victims were executed," Eric Maillaud said, referring to the shooting of the British-Iraqi Hilli family and a French cyclist.

The daily Le Parisien reported on its website on Friday that ballistics tests showed that the first to be shot in the attack was the cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, who was previously thought to have been killed because he stumbled on to the scene.

But the prosecutor said: "Experts have told the judge that they were unable to determine the order of the shootings."

Investigators have so far made little headway into determining who was behind the murder that shocked the country.

Saad Al Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were all found dead inside their BMW estate car on September 5. The cyclist Mollier was found shot dead outside.

The couple's seven-year-old daughter Zainab was found outside the car after being shot in the shoulder and repeatedly hit around the head. She survived but has been unable to help the investigators.

Her four-year-old sister survived by hiding under her mother's skirt in the back of the car, staying there for hours before French police found her.

Le Parisien reported that the killer first shot the cyclist before turning on the Hillis.

Having examined the soles of Saad Al Hilli's shoes, investigators think he was first shot outside the car and then finished off after he got back in and tried to drive off, Le Parisien said.

After having shot the three members of the family in the car, the killer then turned back to the cyclist and finished him off, investigators think, basing their theory on the different angles of some entry wounds.

Their reconstruction suggested that the killer had moved frenetically from one victim to another, returning to shoot again to make sure each was dead.

That seemed to undermine the theory that a professional killer had been behind the killings, investigators told the paper.

The French prosecutor said Saad Al Hilli and his older daughter did leave the family car but "we don't know for what reason".

Agence France-Presse