Honour crimes / Muslim Hate Crimes / Muslims in the UK / Religious persecution / UK Muslim Crimes

France: Suspected apostasy or political killing of UK Muslim businessman vacationing in Alpine France?


How does someone on a salary of £28 an hour with a wife not working and two children in school, own a house in Surrey, in France, in Spain and drive a BMW and take regular vacations each year? Was he a practicing Muslim or converted to Christianity? Was he involved in unknown Islamic political circles? This could be either a monetary/property dispute, politically motivated or even an apostasy killing.

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Was Alpine family killer a professional hitman? Manhunt for assassin who shot  Surrey businessman and grandmother in middle of forehead, cracks skull of daughter, 8, and leaves girl, 4, hiding under dead mother’s skirt

  • Police failed to find terrified youngster until midnight because ‘they didn’t want to disturb crime scene’
  • ‘She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys’ says French prosecutor
  • Father named by police as Saad Al Hilli, a Baghdad-born businessman who now lives with his family in Claygate, Surrey
  • Her older sister, 8, was found near car in critical condition after being hit three times over the head with a blunt instrument
  • A cyclist, named locally as French father-of-three Sylvain Mollier, found dead nearby with gunshots wounds
  • Police probe campsite where family had been staying in nearby Saint Jorioz after British family reported them missing
  • Also investigating possible link to foiled car-jacking by four masked attackers carrying pistol in town 50 miles away

     

By Sam Greenhill, Nick Fagge, Peter Allen and Simon Tomlinson

PUBLISHED: 17:55, 5 September 2012 |

A four-year-old British girl found alive under the bodies of her family who were massacred in the French Alps told police how she was so terrified she ‘could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys’, it emerged today.

Police finally discovered the youngster ‘frozen still’ after hiding under her dead mother’s skirt in a British-registered BMW around eight hours after the shootings took place.

The two other bodies are believed to be those of her grandmother and father, who has been named as Saad Al Hilli, a Baghdad-born business secretary who now lives with his family in upmarket Claygate in Surrey.

French police on guard near the site where the four-year-old girl was discovered alive underneath the bodies of what is believed to be her British family who were gunned down in the French AlpsSurvivor: French police on guard near the site where the four-year-old girl was discovered alive underneath the bodies of what is believed to be her British family who were gunned down in the French Alps

Response: A firefighter and rescue vehicle, which can provide medical assistance and transport victims to hospital, passes a police officer at the scene of the killingsResponse: A firefighter and rescue vehicle, which can provide medical assistance and transport victims to hospital, passes a police officer at the scene of the killings
The four year-old was discovered by investigators from the gendarmerie at midnight eight hours after the massacre took placeThe four year-old was discovered by investigators from the gendarmerie at midnight eight hours after the massacre took place

Air support: Gendarmes gather around a police helicopter which was drafted in to help in the hunt for the gunman or gunmenAir support: Gendarmes gather around a police helicopter which was drafted in to help in the hunt for the gunman or gunmen

Mr Al Hilli is thought to have lived in the UK since at least 2002 and the grandmother had a Swedish passport, according to French officials.

He is also believed to have been the secretary of a Wiltshire-based aerial photography company, AMS 1087, since 2007. A member of staff at the firm told MailOnline they could not comment on the tragedy.

The girl’s eight-year-old sister was discovered lying on the road nearby in a critical condition after being hit over the head three times with a blunt instrument, possibly a rifle, sources say.

A male cyclist, who had also suffered gunshot wounds, was found dead close to the car.

French prosecutor Eric Maillaud today said three of the four killed were shot ‘in the middle of the head’, but had no idea why they were targeted.

The killings were first reported at around 3.50pm yesterday and local police were on scene within minutes.

But officers did not open the windows or doors of the bullet-ridden car for fear the glass would shatter and compromise ballistics enquiries.

London link: Plain-clothes police officers stand outside of the home of Saad Al-Hilli in Claygate, SurreyLondon link: Plain-clothes police officers stand outside of the home of Saad Al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey

Mr Al Hilli is believed to have been the secretary of a Wiltshire-based aerial photography company, AMS 1087, since 2007Mr Al Hilli is believed to have been the secretary of a Wiltshire-based aerial photography company, AMS 1087, since 2007
French Police officers talk to locals close to the spot where the massacre happened. A French source said the four-year-old was found hiding underneath her mother's legs. The two other bodies were believed to be those of her father and grandmotherInvestigation: Officers talk to locals close to the scene. A source said the four-year-old was hiding underneath her mother’s legs. The two other bodies were believed to be those of her father and grandmother
Tragic: French Police officers cordon off the road leading to the scene where four people died in a shooting at a parking in Chevaline near the Annecy LakeTragic: French Police officers cordon off the road leading to the scene where four people died in a shooting at a parking in Chevaline near the Annecy Lake

FRENCH POLICE ‘SHOULD HAVE CHECKED FOR SIGNS OF LIFE’, SAY UK FORENSICS EXPERTS

Forensic experts said the first job for police who arrived at the crime scene should have been to check for survivors.

But it could be that the first officers called to the rural beauty spot in the French countryside simply ‘panicked’ when confronted with the horror.

In the UK, a doctor would be called to certify death – doing so, in this instance, that could have alerted officers that the child was alive amidst the carnage in the car.

Jim Fraser, professor of forensic science at the University of Strathclyde, said the first responsibility for officers confronted with such a crime scene is to check the victims for signs of life.

It has been known for victims even with gunshot wounds to the head to live for hours and survive if they get emergency treatment.

He said: ‘The overriding responsibility to the first responder at a crime scene, in the UK, would be to ensure that all individuals present are accounted for, their health and welfare, with an initial but thorough look at the crime scene.’

Prof Fraser said of such multiple death crimes: ‘It’s a pretty horrible scene – not for the faint-hearted.’

Forensic experts say it is a fiction to think murder scenes are preserved in pristine condition until they are examined by crime scene investigators.

Only after police have carried out their duty to preserve life and certify death do they ‘freeze the scene’.

Instead, they had to wait until midnight – several hours later – for forensics specialists to arrive from Paris, a police source said. It was only then that the four-year-old was discovered inside the vehicle.

‘The reconstruction of the crime scene meant that everything had to remain in place,’ said the police source.

‘This meant doors and windows had to remain shut until forensics officers and ballistics specialists arrived from Paris.

‘Windows had bullet holes in them but had not fallen in. The fear was that they would if the doors were opened.’

At one stage, a helicopter equipped with thermal cameras flew over the BMW, but failed to detect the little girl hiding inside.

This is thought to be because she was hidden under her mother’s body, which would still be emitting heat.

Describing the four-year-old’s ordeal, Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: ‘When the investigators got into the car, they discovered a little girl, who was frozen still and uninjured.

‘She was hidden under the bodies for some eight hours and didn’t move for the whole time. She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys.

‘She spontaneously began to smile and speak in English when the policeman took her in his arms and pulled her out of the car.

‘She had heard the noises, the cries but she couldn’t say more, she is only four years old. She’s fine now – she’s being well looked after’.

It is not known whether she crawled under the bodies to hide or was left trapped when they fell on top of her.

She is currently being cared for by child psychiatrists in hospital.

Her eight-year-old sister was shot three times in the attack and rushed by helicopter to hospital in a critical condition, officials said.

Making enquries: French investigators had begun inspecting Le Solitaire du Lac campsite at Saint-Jorioz, where the murdered family are believed to have been stayingMaking enquries: French investigators had begun inspecting Le Solitaire du Lac campsite at Saint-Jorioz, where the murdered family are believed to have been staying

Gathering clues: A French gendarme stands guard near the caravan thought to have been used by the family Gathering clues: A French gendarme stands guard near the caravan thought to have been used by the familyShe was said to be in a more stable condition early today, but it emerged overnight that she had suffered a fractured skull. She is set to remain under treatment for several days.’We don’t know when we will be able to question her and I would imagine she is in a state of shock,’ Mr Maillaud said.Meanwhile, police said there had been an attempt to steal two cars around Rousillon, in the Isere region, some 50 miles away from the killings, on Wednesday night.Four masked attackers were foiled as they tried to car-jack a Ford Fiesta and then a Peugeot 205.However, they were solely armed with a single pistol, which may well have been a fake, said local police.The BMW attack involved a semi-automatic machine pistol and was clearly fired by an experienced gunman.Forensics experts had been working at the scene all night from around midnight.An undertakers’ cortege was today seen leaving the murder scene, suggesting that bodies were being moved. Autopsies are due to be carried out later today or on Friday.Lieutenant-colonel Benoit Vinnemann, head of the Chambery gendarmerie which is in charge of the investigation said: ‘The three bodies found in the car appear to be the father, mother and grandmother.’It is in any case a family, according to British people at the Saint Jorioz camping site who reported their disappearance on Wednesday night,’ he added.
Sombre: One camper said the atmosphere at the site was 'heavy, nobody is speaking'Sombre: One camper said the atmosphere at the site was ‘heavy, nobody is speaking’

Reported missing: The family were believed to have been staying at a campsite in Saint Jorioz (above)Reported missing: The family were believed to have been staying at a campsite in Saint Jorioz (above)

The family had arrived in France in late August and the father was in his 50s, said a police source.

They were believed to have been staying at a camping site in Saint Jorioz, where a British family reported their disappearance to police on Wednesday night.

Fellow campers at the caravan site in Saint-Jorioz have confirmed to police that the three killed, and the two girls were ‘all part of a family-of-five’, said a detective.

He said that the family had been seen ‘swimming, relaxing, walking and generally enjoying themselves, just like any other family.’

A news website in France said investigators had begun inspecting a caravan used by the family at the campsite Le Solitaire du Lac, at Saint-Jorioz.

Journalists waited outside hoping for more information, but people staying there were saying little.

One woman said: ‘I saw the two women yesterday with the two little girls collecting apples. Everything seemed normal, but I didn’t know them.

‘It was the first year that they had been seen here. It is terrible. The atmosphere is heavy, nobody is speaking.’

The massacre took place in an area close to the Swiss and Italian borders. Nestled in hills next to Lake Annecy, in France’s Haute-Savoie region, it is a magnet for British holidaymakers.

Grim: Three of the corpses - two women and a man - were in a car parked in a forest lay-by in hills next to Lake Annecy, in France¿s Haute-Savoie regionGrim: Three of the corpses – two women and a man – were in a car parked in a forest lay-by in hills next to Lake Annecy, in France’s Haute-Savoie region
Confusion: Earlier reports had suggested the young girl had died in the attack, but later the prosecutor who had announced her death issued a correction and she is fighting for life at Grenoble's CHU hospitalConfusion: Earlier reports had suggested the young girl had died in the attack, but later the prosecutor who had announced her death issued a correction and she is fighting for life at Grenoble’s CHU hospitalThe male driver was found slumped over the wheel of the car, while the two women were in the back seat.The eight-year-old girl was found a short distance from the car, bleeding from ‘at least three’ gunshot wounds, according to a source.She was airlifted in an air ambulance to Grenoble’s CHU hospital where she underwent surgery. At one point, police incorrectly announced she had died.The four-year-old girl was discovered by special investigators long after police had sealed off the area, Maillaud said. Police said it was ‘likely’ that they were a British family.Meanwhile, the body of the male cyclist was found a few yards from the car, which was in a remote woodland car park near the town of Chevaline, close to the mountain resort town of Albertville.He was named locally as Frenchman Sylvain Mollier, a father-of-three in his 40s who came from the nearby town of Ugine.His wife, worried when he did not return from his cycle ride, alerted the authorities, without making a link to the killings.
Killed: The identity of the cyclist was not revealed but police believe he may have tried to intervene during a suspected armed robbery attempt on the family in the roadside rest areaKilled: The identity of the cyclist was not revealed but police believe he may have tried to intervene during a suspected armed robbery attempt on the family in the roadside rest area

She went to a local police station with a photograph of her husband. Officers quickly made the link and her husband was identified as the fourth victim. He found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mr Maillaud said.

One theory was that he saw the shooting and was killed to silence him.

The bloodbath was discovered by a second cyclist – a French local – who stumbled on the horror scene at 4pm (3pm UK time).

Some 15 spent bullet casings from an automatic pistol were found at the crime scene.

Armed police formed a ring of steel at the hospital to ensure no further harm came to the girl.

Last night, the cyclist who called police from his mobile phone was treated for severe shock and questioned by detectives.

Eric Maillaud, the investigating prosecutor from Annecy, said: ‘It is a dramatic crime scene like we see on the TV. We are employing all necessary means to investigate. Two men and two women are the victims. The car is a British-registered BMW estate.

Press: Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud answers to journalists on the road leading to the scene - he confirmed the young girl was not dead and was in intensive carePress: Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud answers to journalists on the road leading to the scene – he confirmed the young girl was not dead and was in intensive care

Closed off: A firemen and rescue vehicle is driven on the road leading to the grisly scene Closed off: A firemen and rescue vehicle is driven on the road leading to the grisly scene

‘One of the male victims was a cyclist. He was found near his bike in his cycling gear. The other man was in the driving seat of the car. The two women were in the back of the car. There is a large number of gun cartridges at the crime scene.’

Didier Berthollet, mayor of Chevaline, said that ‘the victims were not from the village’, adding that locals had told police they had seen a car speeding past between 3pm and 4pm.

At least 60 policemen sealed off the area and a helicopter was circling overhead. There were no reports that anyone had been arrested.

CHEVALINE WEB MAP.JPG

Police also questioned villagers about reports a motorbike was heard speeding away from the scene.

The motive for the carnage remained a mystery last night.

The ferocity of the attack – and the apparent attempt to leave no witnesses – suggested it may have been the work of a professional assassin.

Another theory is that it was a heist, but armed robberies of holidaymakers are not considered a problem in the area.

The attack took place close to Doussard, which is hugely popular with British holidaymakers during the summer months.

Police have not yet confirmed the nationalities of the deceased, but they are thought to be from the UK because of the BMW’s registration plates.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said: ‘We are aware of the reports of the shooting and we are looking into these urgently.’

The Paris embassy was also liaising with the police in Britain.

Experts from the national gendarmerie’s IRCGN unit were expected to collect DNA samples, shells left at the scene for ballistics analysis and check for traces of other vehicles that may have been at the scene.

Tourist destination: Lake Annecy in France's Haute-Savoie region, it is a magnet for British holidaymakersTourist destination: Lake Annecy in France’s Haute-Savoie region, it is a magnet for British holidaymakers
Tourist destination: The attack took place close to Doussard, which is full of holiday lets and hugely popular with British people during the summer monthsTourist destination: The attack took place close to Doussard, which is full of holiday lets and hugely popular with British people during the summer months

No weapons were found at the scene, but gendarmes said that all the victims had been shot. The cartridges at the scene indicate that the gunshots came from outside the vehicle.

The crime scene was ‘frozen’ while gendarmes waited for a specialist forensic team. The bodies were taken to the town of Grenoble for autopsies.

Up to 500,000 Britons pass through the Annecy area each year, either on their way to winter ski holidays, or to enjoy summers around the lakes and mountains.

France tightened its laws on illegal firearms earlier this year, amid a worrying rise in the use of guns by criminals.

In July, a gunman using an assault rifle shot dead two people and injured five after being turned away from a nightclub in Lille.

In March, self-styled Al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Merah killed four people at a Jewish school and three soldiers in southern France. He was killed after a 32-hour siege in Toulouse.

Video: French police investigate family’s campsite
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198777/Lake-Annecy-shooting-French-Alps-Girl-4-ALIVE–murdered-father-named-Saad-Al-Hilli.html#ixzz25hFiqew5

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